Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a random set of Canes observations.
With another win on Sunday, James Reimer continues to play well in net. Could that coupled with four straight road games see him become the Canes starting netminder? Brind’Amour will not make any formal announcement on such a shift, and both goalies will continue to play anyway. But thus far in 2019-20, Reimer has taken a heavier share of the road games and has outperformed Mrazek in those games. Reimer is 8-4-0 on the road with a 2.54 goals against average and .919 save percentage. Mrazek is 4-6-2 with a 3.00 goals against average and .897 save percentage. If Brind’Amour is going to lean a bit more in Reimer’s direction, timing could be now. Again, this is not suggesting that there will be some kind of formal announcement from Brind’Amour. There is no need for that. But it will be interesting to see who starts on Tuesday and also just how things play out in net over the coming weeks.
Though I actually did not think it was a great fit initially, playing Andrei Svechnikov on Staal’s line early in the season worked out well. Svechnikov did not seem to be in over his head playing against other teams’ top players, and initially he provided a scoring boost for that line with his passing. But at the point where Svechnikov is not boosting scoring for Staal’s line, I think it is time to redeployed to maximize his scoring. If the slot that Svechnikov holds right now is going to be light on scoring, there are plenty of other options. Though I do think it makes the Canes offense a bit top-heavy, I think timing could be right to put Svechnikov with Aho. Aho seems to be finding a higher gear, and Svechnikov could get a boost in terms of scoring chances by playing with him right now. Svechnikov had a pretty goal on Sunday to start February strong, but he scored only two goals in eleven games in January. Perhaps timing is right to try to maximize what he can bring offensively.
Whereas I felt like he was mostly just opportunistic scoring-wise early in the season, Sebastian Aho is more so starting to produce by driving volume of chances. Aho had multiple good chances in netting a goal and an assist on Sunday. When Aho starts to drive his scoring through sheer volume of chances, his scoring increases in a way that is sustainable.
On a completely separate note, I think the time has come for Aho to come up with another go-to move when in alone on the breakaway. His go-to move has always been one where he carries on his forehand then quickly pulls the puck to his backhand to get the goalie to move and then almost simultaneously slides the puck five-hole as the goalie opens up for a split second to move across. The move worked regularly early on, but more recently goalies have seen enough video to anticipate this move and close the opening to shoot through. Earlier this season Aho beat a goalie by just shooting. I think the time is now for Aho to add a move that starts forehand but finishes different than trying to slide a backhand through the goalies legs.
Julien Gauthier continues to be red hot in Charlotte. The point of caution for giving Gauthier another shot to see if he can produce at the NHL level is how ready he is in terms of two-way play and attention to detail defensively. The Hurricanes already have a few players slotted into the lineup whose strengths lean offense over two-way play. So as long as the NHL team is healthy and winning, I would not expect the team to recall Gauthier. On the other hand, at some point the scoring upside of Gauthier becomes intriguing. And also worth noting is that Gauthier did make strides in that area from last season to this one, so just maybe he is ready to be a significant offensive contributor who at least good enough defensively.
What say you Canes fans?
1) With his run of strong play and the road trip, do you think we will see a shift, even if gradual, to more starts for James Reimer?
2) What are your thoughts on removing Andrei Svechnikov from Jordan Staal’s line with the aim of surrounding him with a bit more offensive talent and maximizing his scoring?
3) Is Sebastian Aho on the verge of finding a higher gear? What are your thoughts on goalies having the book on Aho’s go-to breakaway move?
4) What will it take see Julien Gauthier in a Canes uniform again during the 2019-20 season?