Today’s Daily Cup of Joe has a set of random Canes musings.
I would rate Nedeljkovic’s first start of the 2020-21 season as slightly positive and roughly what one would hope to get from a backup goalie. On the positive side, Nedeljkovic did not have any errors or soft goals. He kept his team in the game until late and gave them a chance to win. And he made a few good saves along the way despite giving up three goals against a modest 22 shots against. None of the goals against were the kind that one pins directly on the goalie. The first was an odd deflection of Svechnikov’s back. The second was on a penalty shot. And the third was on a partial breakaway. That said, being successful at the NHL level requires more than just making the easy saves. The difference between decent or slightly positive or maybe neutral and very good or great is very small. If Nedeljkovic’s robs Roslovic and the Hurricanes go on to win 3-2, the outlook changes dramatically. Such is the difficult life of an NHL goalie.
But at a basic level, Nedeljkovic should have increased his level of trust and confidence such that he gets the next logical turn for the backup. With the Hurricanes next four games spaced neatly every other day, it will be interesting to see if Brind’Amour gives Nedeljkovic another turn in one of those four games or waits until the back-to-back set next Friday and Saturday. I am not of the mind to upset the apple cart in terms of pecking order. Reimer is the starter and should be as of now. But I would consider giving Nedeljkovic a start in the next four games.
Brady Skjei and Brind’Amour’s system
He has quietly been pretty good for the most part so far in 2020-21 as I said on Twitter during a game I think, what jumps out to me about his style of play is how aggressive and generally on target decision making-wise he has been in terms of pinching in on the blue line to keep the offensive zone. When working well, many define Brind’Amour’s system by its aggressive forecheck. But I think even more significant than that is the idea of fighting incredibly hard to not give up puck possession in the offensive zone. Slavin and Pesce have always had a natural instinct and aggressiveness to step up on the puck in all situations. Skjei more than any other Canes defenseman is cut from that same mold. The other Canes defensemen do it too, but for some it is more learned as part of what Brind’Amour teaches versus innate like it is for Slavin, Pesce and I think also Skjei.
Saying that Andrei Svechnikov is a great young player and getting better by the day offers exactly nothing in terms of uniqueness. Everyone sees it, and everyone knows it. I think what jumps out most about Svechnikov for me is how well-rounded his game is. He is not the case of an elite scorer who has deficits in other areas of his game that will fill in over time. Offensively, he is really not shoot first or pass first. Rather, he tends to be incredibly good at making decisions on which will yield the best scoring chance. In terms of putting the puck in the net, he has shown an ability to flat beat goalies from the top of the face-off circle but also an ability to pick corners from in close or just simply get to places where goals happen off the rush. Maybe most surprising is how his game has developed in non-scoring areas. He is still prone to an occasional obstruction penalty, but has improved significantly defensively and is already a physical power forward.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What was your assessment of Nedeljkovic’s first start of the 2020-21 season? When would you give him his next opportunity?
2) Does anyone else see how aggressively the Canes pinch/step up from the blue line to keep the offensive zone as a hallmark of Brind’Amour’s system and how the Canes play? Or do you think it is more just standard NHL hockey today?
3) Aside from the obvious scoring and offensive ability, what secondary skill or ability most stands out to you from Andrei Svechnikov?