Today’s Daily Cup of Joe starts with a few quick thoughts on the ugly 6-0 loss to the Blue Jackets on Thursday and then offers up a few other random thoughts that are a bit more positive.
In general, I think Thursday’s 6-0 loss is just one that you flush quickly and work hard to put behind you with a better effort and a win on Saturday. The weird schedule that just included another 6-day layoff despite traveling to play a game and limited practices was bound to catch up to the team and did in a rough way. Couple that with a Columbus team that wanted to exact revenge after the humiliating Canes win in Columbus last week, and you had a perfect storm. The game was actually a bit similar to last Friday’s game against the Flames. The Hurricanes similarly came out flat but ultimately found their footing in time and won the game. The Hurricanes did push back in the second period but were not rewarded with a goal at which point things went south. As stated above, I would mostly just write this one off, but the one thing that I would watch closely as the season proceeds is how the blue line looks without Jaccob Slavin in the lineup . I finished yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe by saying:
In addition, I think Slavin is required to make that second top 4 pairing go, so I question whether the Canes could survive needing to bump everyone up a slot in the event of a playoff-time injury to Slavin, Pesce or Skjei.
I think Skjei/Pesce is a pairing where the sum is greater than the individual parts because they mesh well, so when you take Slavin out of the lineup and split Pesce and Skjei, I fear the group is short of having a capable top 4. With Slavin in COVID protocol, we should get another game or two to see if the team can rebound without him.
On a lighter note, did anyone else enjoy how happy Nino Niederreiter looking singing Dancing Queen on the jumbotron, or was I the only one who was easily amused with the game already decided unfavorably?
Goal scoring from the wing
Exiting the 2020-21 season, one area for possible improvement in the top half of the lineup was more finishing from the wing. During the off-season, the Hurricanes parted ways with Warren Foegele and Brock McGinn whose ceiling offensively is probably that of good third line/depth wings. Added was Jesperi Kotkaniemi who at least potentially has a higher ceiling offensively. In addition, there was good reason to expect Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas to continue to increase their production. Nearing the midway point of the season, I would not say that the Hurricanes are noticeably better in this regard. Kotkaniemi did not click in a top 6 role initially. He actually produced once bumped down the lineup and back to his natural center position. Svechnikov’s scoring pace is a bit higher than 2020-21, but he has continued to run hot and cold. After seven goals in seven games to start the season, Svechnikov has scored only five goals in the 26 games since his hot start. Necas is scoring at about the same pace as 2020-21. Veterans Teuvo Teravainen and Nino Niederreiter are what they are at this point. Teravainen still leans pass over shoot. His 10 goals represent a decent pace, but those mostly come from his role as a power play trigger man with only two of his goals coming at even strength. Niederreiter is again tracking toward 25-30 goals. Seth Jarvis adds another potential finisher. Jesper Fast has maybe overachieved after a fast start, and Seth Jarvis adds another potential finisher to the mix. The strength of the group is its balance, but the burning question is if that depth will carry the day come playoff time.
What say you Canes fans?
1) How concerned are you about Thursday’s 6-0 loss? What parts of it are you most eager to see cleaned up on Saturday?
2) What is your assessment of the Canes scoring from the wings? Do you prefer balance or top-heavy fire power, and do you think the Hurricanes have enough to beat top teams in the playoffs?