After reeling off three fun wins over the opening weekend, the Hurricanes tote a perfect 3-0 mark into week two of the 2019-20 NHL season.
Week 2 starts with a road match up against new Floridian Sergey Bobrovsky and the Florida Panthers. The Panthers are off to a respectable start splitting a pair of games against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Hot right now is Mike Hoffman who already has four goals in two games. With Sergey Bobrovsky added to shore up netminding, the Panthers are a team looking to make a statement that they are improved enough to push for the playoffs in 2019-20.
On the Hurricanes side of the ledger, James Reimer will get the start in a match up against his former team, and mostly the Hurricanes will just look to keep riding the fun ‘find a way’ vibe that has started the season.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Florida Panthers
1) James Reimer
In his Hurricanes debut on Saturday against the Capitals, I thought Reimer started okay but not great. He was not bad but seemed to be a bit off on some angles and fighting off the puck a bit. But with the Hurricanes down 2-0 in the middle of the game and needing him to hold the fort, he did exactly that. He was stellar during a run of penalty kills in the second period, bailed the team out a few times in the third period and was again a wall against a firing range in the overtime penalty kill. When all was said and done, the Hurricanes mustered a come from behind victory and Reimer was front and center in the effort. Tuesday represents a chance to extend a positive start and make quick work of leaving behind a sub-par 2018-19 season.
2) Special teams
Amidst a number of positive stories in three wins, the special teams have been a pleasant surprise. The team would not have won on Saturday without the penalty kill standing tall, and the power play has twice started Canes comebacks in the third period. Erik Haula has garnered the most headlines, but Teuvo Teravainen has been incredibly good as a puck distributor from the side and Dougie Hamilton has also been a catalyst with the man advantage. Special teams, specifically the power play, represent one area for potential improvement over the 2018-19 season, so I will be watching closely to see if this trend can continue.
3) A rise of the scorers
Thus far, the Hurricanes offense has been fueled by the incredible play of the blue line. Expected offensive leaders Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrei Svechnikov are all still goal-less. I already noted Teravainen’s strong play on the power play above, and I also think Aho and Svechnikov (who has four assists) have been fine. But watching for this group to get going to could be perfect timing for the next leg of a great start to the 2019-20 season.
4) Riding the vibe
NHL hockey can be a crazy thing. There are times when a team cannot buy a win even if it deserves one and other times when a team can seem to do no wrong. The Hurricanes are clearly riding the latter right now. Each and every one of the Canes three wins was in jeopardy and could have gone the other way had the opponent been able to make just a few more plays once staked to a lead. Because the Hurricanes will inevitably see the other end of the puck luck spectrum at some point, it is important to ride runs like the current one for as long as possible.
The puck drops at 7pm on Fox Sports Carolinas with John, Tripp and Mike.