Chronological Blog List

Preseason #2 Vs. Tam: ‘What I’m watching’ — Canes seek continuation with NHL group in game 2 rematch

Tuesday featured a road match of a young Canes group that was light on pure NHL talent playing the core of a Stanley Cup contender. But proving that the game is won on the ice, the Hurricanes group, led by the forwards, pushed pace and played an aggressive, skating brand of hockey that tilted the ice into the Tampa Bay end and resulted in a 4-1 Hurricanes win. If you missed it late last night, you can find my recap for that game HERE.  Preseason action continues tonight with a rematch in Raleigh. As one would expect, Wednesday will feature more of an NHL lineup for the Hurricanes and less of an NHL lineup for the Lightning.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Tampa Bay Lightning 1) Continuation of pace and pressure For me, the story of the game Tuesday was the strong forward play that dictated play, tilted the ice into the offensive zone and minimized pressure on the defense and goalies to stop the Lightning scoring stars. I closed with this for my game recap yesterday: 7) The burning question The forward play was impressive. They generally played a simple and aggressive game pursuing the puck in all three zones. At least theoretically, the pace and aggressiveness (and hopefully the success in Tuesday’s game) could potentially be the first part of what we call “Brind’Amour hockey”. But to be honest, I think the Caniac Nation, myself included, is so desperate for signs of a positive trajectory that 60 minutes of hockey in game 1 of the preseason could be taken for more than...

Canes catch up notes: Brett Pesce, Peter Mrazek, Greg McKegg and Jordan Martinook

In case you missed it, a recap with player notes of the Hurricanes 4-1 win over the Lightning is HERE.   Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a quick burst of Canes notes that have not made it into another article yet or are covered in more detail here.   Brett Pesce As far as anything official, Brett Pesce who missed the tail end of the 2017-18 season with a shoulder injury, his usage thus far in training camp has looked odd to me. For the first practice sessions, Slavin, Hamilton, de Haan and Faulk were in one group and Pesce was in the other spending time with Jake Bean. Brind’Amour said very clearly not to read much into combinations in early practices, but the paranoid part of me figures Pesce for a top 4 defenseman and would logically expect him to be practicing with that group. If he plays regular minutes in Wednesday’s preseason game that would sort of put a stake in the sand that says the injury is behind him and that he is tracking to be ready by early October. WEDNESDAY NOTE ADDED: Pesce is in the lineup for Wednesday’s game, so I guess we can close this one. The watch shifts to getting an early read on how Brind’Amour plans to build his blue line with arguably five top 4 defensemen and only 4 slots plus the need to bump someone (likely Fleury) out of the bottom pairing.  UPDATE TO UPDATE: Pesce seems to be on the lineup card but not in the lineup? I guess we will see at game time, but perhaps...

Preseason Gm1 @Tam: Canes kids and grinders roll to 4-1 win over Tampa Bay All-Stars

Brief recap of Hurricanes 4-1 win over the Lightning As is often the case for road games early in preseason, the home team has a number of the top players dressed to play in front of the home crowd and skip some of the preseason travel, and just the opposite the road team travels without many of its top players and instead with a young group. That was exactly the case on Tuesday night in Tampa Bay with the Lightning icing what would figure to be the superior team on paper. But the paper meant nothing. The Hurricanes dictated play and were the aggressor pretty much from the outset. The young forward group to a man, attacked the puck and took away space especially on the forecheck and in the neutral. The result was a strong start in terms of puck possession and minimal pressure 5v5 on the defense and the goalie. Combined with a shaky first period from Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, the Hurricanes jumped out to a 2-0 lead. First, tryout defenseman Michal Cajkovsky made the most of his chance to suit up in a NHL uniform when he scored through a Morgan Geekie screen to put the Canes up 1-0. Cajkovsky. He looked you the next coming of Brent Burns for most of the first period playing much of the period creeping down to the top of the face-off circle to support the puck and then firing at will when it arrived. He had a least five first period shots, mostly of a good quality. Then Lucas Wallmark beat Vasilevskiy cleanly on a soft goal to...

Preseason #1 @Tam: ‘What I’m watching’ — Let the games begin!

After another long offseason, the Carolina Hurricanes are back on the ice in game action in the first of six preseason games to prepare for the 2018-19 NHL season. The game group travels to Tampa Bay to take on the Lightning. As is usually the case in early preseason road games, the Hurricanes lineup is slightly on the light side in terms of players expected to make the NHL roster and as is often the case, will play a Lightning team that is fairly stacked with its superstars. Both today’s game and Wednesday’s will feature ‘that one chance to impress’ for a number of players on the underside of the cut line before the roster starts to shrink and the team focuses more on NHL lineup preparation.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Tampa Bay Lightning 1) Young D under pressure As noted above, many of Tampa Bay’s big guns will be in the lineup and will be facing a young Hurricanes group on defense that includes only Haydn Fleury and Trevor van Riemsdyk for the 2017-18 NHL regulars. The game represents a big challenge and measuring stick for the group of aspiring young defensemen that includes Roland McKeown, Jake Bean, Josh Wesley, Daniel Renouf and Michal Cajkovsky. On Tuesday, I will be watching to see how the young group holds up against high-end NHL competition as a way of measuring proximity to NHL-readiness for these players.   2) Lucas Wallmark As detailed in my Daily Cup of Joe article on Monday on Victor Rask’s injury, I see Lucas Wallmark as the front runner to...

6 Carolina Hurricanes to watch in early preseason action

Below is a quick hitter list of 10 Carolina Hurricanes players to watch in early preseason action with an eye for finding dark horse candidates for roster spots.   Lucas Wallmark With Victor Rask’s injury, I would probably not call Wallmark a dark horse anymore, but he was definitely a player on the outside looking in just before training camp started. He had a phenomenal year at the AHL level in 2017-18. At the NHL level, he looked competent but not really impressive. I will be curious to see if Brind’Amour flanks him with NHL wings in preseason action to gauge his ability to step in at the NHL level.   Janne Kuokkanen Kuokkanen is another player who could step into Rask’s slot as a center, but I think Kuokkanen could also be a dark horse to win a roster spot at wing. His heady two-way play with a bit of offense actually projects to fit on Jordan Staal’s line, but as with all of the young players, the question is whether they will reach projections/ceilings and when. Seeing if Brind’Amour plays Kuokkanen at wing or center early on would give some idea of where he possibly fits, and seeing if he gets ice time with NHLers would also be a clue for where he currently sits on the depth chart for consideration to start the season at the NHL level.   Michael Fora To be honest, I am still unable to gauge how close Fora is to NHL-ready. He looked capable against younger competition in prospect camp and in Traverse City. But that level of play is well...

The impact and upshot of Victor Rask’s injury

I have in process a somewhat formal preseason preview series that I drafted last week and then shelved temporarily late last week with the news of Justin Williams being named captain and the potential Hurricanes impact of Erik Karlsson being traded. My hope is to tie up loose ends and have this preview posted before the team takes to the ice for preseason action on Tuesday against Tampa Bay.   On Thursday just before the start of the Carolina Hurricanes first training camp practice, the team announced that Victor Rask would require surgery on his fourth and fifth fingers which were injured in a kitchen accident earlier in the summer. Then on Sunday Rod Brind’Amour declared that Rask’s injury would keep him out for “months”. Rask injury will be “months,” Brind’Amour said. It was a major surgery that included repairing tendons. — Cory Lavalette (@corylav) September 16, 2018   Looking backward Looking backward to Victor Rask’s 2017-18, his injury might not seem like a big loss for the team on the ice. Rask had a sub-par season. His production and play in general was sluggish out of the gate and well into the season. He did rebound modestly in the second half of the season, but in total the season was not a good one for Victor Rask. His scoring plummeted from 46 points in 2016-17 to a mere 31 in 2017-18 even after a modest push late in the season. With Sebastian Aho moving to center and Martin Necas hopefully on the way, Rask entered the offseason as a fourth line center if everything else worked out as...

Does Erik Karlsson trade pave the way for a Justin Faulk deal?

Thursday was a huge news day from a Carolina Hurricanes perspective. Just before the first of two practices kicked off at 2:45pm, the team announced that it had named Justin Williams its captain. I offered my initial thoughts on that announcement HERE. Shortly before that the team announced that Victor Rask had undergone surgery on his fourth and fifth fingers from an injury sustained in a kitchen accident earlier in the summer and would be out indefinitely. And somewhere amidst that fray, news broke that the Ottawa Senators had traded Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks for what could best be termed a sizable collection of random pieces. Though not directly related to the Carolina Hurricanes, this last announcement is the topic of today’s Daily Cup of Joe.   How the Erik Karlsson deal could impact the Hurricanes Erik Karlsson was by far and away the best player left who seemingly had to be moved, and he would have stood atop the list of available defensemen even before the list had been mostly cleared. In terms of basic skill set, Karlsson is an offensively gifted right shot defenseman who brings a ton in terms of generating offense and scoring. He is adequate or maybe better but not elite defensively to top 4-capable and well worth it given the offense he brings. To be clear, Justin Faulk is not the same caliber of player as Erik Karlsson, but for a team looking for a right shot, experienced top 4 defenseman who can play on a first power play unit and contribute offensively Faulk checks all the same boxes even...

Justin Williams named Carolina Hurricanes captain – A jolt and a bridge

For anyone not away from hockey preparing for the arrive of Florence, it should not be new news that Justin Williams has been named the captain of the Carolina Hurricanes. I could and probably will (electricity permitting) over the next few days come at this announcement from about a dozen different angles, but in the aim of not losing the most important points in the details, this article will focus on only a handful of points that I think are most significant.   First…deja vu back to last October My general thinking on this dates back to this article from October 6, 2017 right after Jordan Staal and Justin Faulk were named co-captains where I said: But I still would have preferred Justin Williams But I still would have preferred Williams, and here is why… I just think the team needs a sudden and stark shift in mindset. A significant part of it is simply personality and communication style, but Francis and Peters tone very much strikes a ‘working to get better’, ‘doing it the right way’, ‘in it for the long haul’, ‘not looking for short-term fixes’, etc. type of style. I think a shift in mentality is in order. The Hurricanes are NOT ‘hoping to be in the mix in March.’ They are not ‘getting better’ or ‘on the right path.’ The Carolina Hurricanes need to make a meaningful shift to something along the lines of ‘We will make the playoffs this year.’ Justin Williams is the embodiment of that shift. When a 34-year old veteran with Cup wins and other options chose to come to Raleigh,...

Part 2: ‘Like’ and ‘room for improvement’ from Carolina Hurricanes prospects at Traverse City

Coming out of the Traverse City tourney yesterday, I started into a series of ‘like’ and ‘room for improvement’ for the prospects who played in the tourney. Yesterday’s article  included Andrei Svechnikov, Jeremy Helvig, Janne Kuokkanen, Nicolas Roy and Luke Henman. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe continues with similar comments/notes on a second set of Canes prospects who played in Traverse City.   Jake Bean Like: I think Bean’s vision, puck handling and poise on the point of the power play are good enough to play at least on a second unit on the power play in the NHL today. With a bit of room to assess the situation and take a couple strides, Bean also looks capable of advancing the puck up and out of the defensive zone. Considering that skill set alone, Bean projects to be an offense-oriented third pairing defenseman in the right situation. Room for Improvement: But the problem is that is exactly what I project for Bean right now. To become more, his game will need to mature defensively, and to be honest, I question whether Bean is on the right trajectory make the necessary improvements. The biggest issue I have with his play is his tendency to just keep backing up and backing up when facing players coming at him with speed. That issue with gap control is problematic in today’s NHL where even bottom half of the roster players can convert time and space quickly into scoring chances. In the name of full disclosure, I have not been as high as the consensus on Bean for some time now, so I admittedly...

‘Like’ and ‘room for improvement’ from Carolina Hurricanes prospects at Traverse City

I had notes and good intentions of posting a recap and notes from the Hurricanes finale in Traverse City on Tuesday afternoon, but life got in the way. I will hopefully put them up in the next day or so. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks more broadly at the entirety of the tourney and offers ‘likes’ and ‘room for improvement’ from what I saw over the four-game set. My comments do also consider my assessment of the players coming into the tourney, so they are more of an update than an assessment on a very small sample size. In addition, all of these players are still fairly early in their development with the potential to improve and reach higher levels of play.   Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas as a duo Like: Both players had their moments and looked every bit NHL-capable. Svechnikov showed the sniper-like capabilities of a goal scorer and Necas had his share of times where he seemed to cover 30 feet of ice in an eighth of a second. So individually, each player did enough to impress. Room for improvement: As much as I tried to find it, I would not say that the duo exhibited great chemistry as defined by players making each other better. They did combine for one really pretty goal late in Tuesday’s game when Necas found Svechnikov with a nifty pass between the circles and Svechnikov made a pretty move and then finished with a laser for a goal. But in total, I did not see the two as being a 1+1=3 as often as I had hoped for...

Three things that I do NOT think we can get a read on during preseason

With a number of changes both on and off the ice, Hurricanes fans will tune in starting this week for training camp and preseason trying to assess the new team and what the changes mean for the 2018-19. I think there are number of things that training camp and preseason action will be useful for assessing or reassessing. I think preseason games will be helpful for gauging where Andrei Svechnikov is at this early stage of his development. I also think that preseason action can be useful for an early gauge for chemistry for line mates. And preseason action should also be useful for at least early indications on three other things. But I actually think that preseason will be of minimal if any use for evaluating a couple keys for the 2018-19 season.   1) Goaltending After yet another sub-par season in net in 2017-18 and a decision to give it a go again with Scott Darling and another player looking to rebound in Petr Mrazek, an early positive sign on goaltending could be top of a Hurricanes fan wish list entering training camp. As such, everyone will be watching Scott Darling and to some degree Petr Mrazek closely. Does Darling look quicker, more confident, sharper or whatever else? Does Mrazek look like the starter he was a few years back? Etc., etc. But if Hurricanes history over the past long run of playoff misses teaches the Caniac Nation anything it is that preseason offers very little in terms of gauging regular season performance. The Hurricanes have generally been decent or better in net in preseason only to...

Traverse City Gm3 vs. Clu: Canes prospects get beaten wire to wire in 4-1 loss to Blue Jackets

Calling it like it is, Monday’s third game of the Traverse City prospects tourney was a disappointment. The Blue Jackets team was noticeably physical early to make a point and then mostly outplayed the Hurricanes throughout. There was a smattering of good individual plays, but the closest the Hurricanes came to any sustained push was probably only 5-6 shifts early in the second period before that dissipated into more of Columbus being the aggressor. Perspective is important. This is mid-September hockey with a team pulled together with minimal practice and also a sizable group of players who are not even part of the organization. So reading too much into a single game or even the whole tourney can be overdone. That said, a game was played and as such, we might as well glean what we can from it. At a general level, the issues were team-wide. The team had nowhere near the jump that Columbus had especially early, and similar to Saturday’s loss to Chicago the team had issues trying to advance the puck out of its own end with any kind of pace. My usual player notes will focus primarily on the positives mixed into a tough night.   Jeremy Helvig Despite allowing three goals, I thought Helvig held up well under siege and with some sloppy play in front of him. He has a good knack for using his large frame to play into shots and enough athleticism that he is a good first shot goalie. Like many young goalies, he has a ways to go in terms of rebound control, and ideally he will also...

Random Canes blue line notes – Adam Fox, Michael Fora and more

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe includes a small collection of random Canes notes that have not found their way into articles yet or could benefit from a deeper dive.   Blue line depth, Justin Faulk and the potential impact on Adam Fox In the blockbuster trade that sent Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin to Calgary for Dougie Hamilton and Micheal Ferland, the Hurricanes also obtained an extra bonus in prospect Adam Fox. Fox is not just a low to mid-tier throw in. He is a high-end blue line prospect who I (and others since then) rate above Jake Bean who previously topped the team’s blue line prospect rankings. Fox was allegedly available because the Flames thought he would not sign but rather would play out four years of college and then become a free agent. The burning question is whether the Hurricanes can convince him to sign next summer after his junior year. Personal factors and other things could come into play, but looking at the situation solely from the angle of Fox considering his opportunity joining the Hurricanes versus signing with another team, there are a few things to consider. First is the logjam on the right side of the Hurricanes blue line right now. With Justin Faulk still in tow, the team has four proven NHL defensemen who are right shots right now. That does not look great for Fox hoping to get NHL ice time sooner rather than later. Just in general, the strength of the Hurricanes blue line is a negative right now for Fox. But I think somewhat of a path could be cleared...

Traverse City Gm2 vs. Chi: Sluggish Baby Canes sputter to 5-2 loss against the Blackhawks

If you missed it yesterday, a similar lengthier article recapping Friday’s 4-1 win over St. Louis can be found HERE.   On Saturday afternoon, the Hurricanes prospects played their second of three round robin games against the Blackhawks. The game started inauspiciously with the Hurricanes largely hemmed in their own end against an aggressive forecheck and struggling to advance the puck. But Jake Bean single-handedly relieved pressure to some degree and a couple power play opportunities and a 5-on-3 goal for seemed to right the ship. But the Hurricanes never really did shake off the sloppiness, played too much of the game under duress and ultimately fell 5-2. The story of the game was the fact that the Hurricanes had little answer for an aggressive foreceheck. The combination of turnovers and just spending too much time in their own end eventually did them in. I had to check out at about the midway point of the third period, so my comments are based only on about 50 of the 60 minutes of hockey. Quick player notes are below:   Andrei Svechnikov He picked up two points in the opener on Friday, but I actually thought Saturday’s game offered a better glimpse of his future in a Hurricanes uniform. He fired a laser of a wrist shot into the net for his first goal against opposition in a Hurricanes sweater. He also hit a post on another shot also from the vicinity of the right face-off circle. Looking forward into 2018-19, could be be a right wing sniper on the right side of Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen? It is...

Traverse City Gm1 vs. StL: Canes roll to 4-1 win over Baby Blues in prospect tourney opener

The Carolina Hurricanes prospect team started strong in the Traverse City tourney on Friday afternoon. Facing a Blues team that also rates high for its prospect pool, the Hurricanes jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, survived a sluggish second period and ultimately prevailed 4-1 in their tourney opener.   Carolina Hurricanes scoring (someone chime in if I missed an assist as their is no official score sheet that I am aware of) Goal 1: Morgan Geekie from Stelio Mattheos and Luke Henman Henman made a nifty play to get the puck to Mattheos in space on the rush. Mattheos fed Geekie who beat the goalie while steaming in just right of center. Goal 2: Julien Gauthier from Andrei Svechnikov and Stelio Mattheos (I believe) The play started with Bean at the top of the umbrella feeding Mattheos on left side who made a nice pass through the seam to find Svechnikov for a quick wrist shot. Gauthier was parked in front and deposited the loose change into the net. Goal 3: Martin Necas from Janne Kuokkanen and Stelio Mattheos Kuokkanen made a nice play to quickly carry the puck into shooting position from the end line. When the rebound spit out, Necas swooped in to finish. Goal 4: Janne Kuokkanen from Andrei Svechnikov Streaking down the right side on the rush, Svechnikov created a passing lane and then passed across to Kuokkanen who filled the middle lane and finished.   Check in on ‘what I’m watching’ points In case you missed it, my tourney preview is HERE. Many of my watch points featured in Friday’s...
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