I feel like I am running about 12 hours behind on about everything in life this week, but I did finally post at least abbreviated notes on Tuesday’s game. Those are HERE.
As is typically the case at home in the preseason, tonight’s Hurricanes lineup features much more of an NHL contingent, with three lines of NHL forwards and also four NHL defensemen plus Gustav Forsling who figures to be in the mix of players competing at the AHL/NHL cut line.
Foegele- Haula- Necas
Svechnikov- Staal- Turbo
Lorentz- Bishop- Gauthier
EMOJIS TO COME
— Sara ‘morning skate tweeter’ Civ (@SaraCivian) September 18, 2019
Quick ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Tampa Bay Lightning
1) Chemistry at the top
The top scoring line features Sebastian Aho in his usual place and familiar face Nino Niederreiter. Ryan Dzingel is the new add. The party line on Dzingel is that his play on the defensive side of the puck is not one of his strengths. So I will be watching two things in that regard. First is to see if/to what degree this line has chemistry out of the gate. Second, I will be watching to see how Dzingel looks in instances where he needs to read/react and not just be a Brind’Amour system heat-seeking missile on the left side.
2) Svech with the the shutdown leader
I am on record as preferring to stock Jordan Staal’s line with players who rate average or better defensively. Important to note is that Andrei Svechnikov is still only 19 years old and growing in all facets of his play which makes it possible for the 2019-20 version of him to be significantly different from where he left off in 2018-19. He had fairly regular struggles defensively during the first two-thirds of the 2018-19 with the most notable issue being a regular habit of losing focus for a second or two, not reading and moving his feet and then ultimately taking a stick infraction once he realized that he was out of position. Svechnikov did make progress in that regard in the final part of the season which offers hope that he could be on a path to better defensively heading into the 2019-20. So that is definitely something I will be watching. I am also curious to see if the lines above are accurate for who plays on which side. I would expect Svechnikov to be on his usual right side and Teravainen to be on the left side, but I guess we will see. In that regard, I am on record as preferring Teravainen on the left side of a Staal line and the right side of an Aho line. The subtle but significant difference is that I think Teravainen has a propensity to hold the puck a bit more on the left side where he can protect it better and is more of a playmaker whereas on the right side he at least has some greater propensity to receive pucks to the inside and make more decisions to turn slightly and put the puck on net.
3) The speed line
I said after the first practice, the 2019-20 Carolina Hurricanes project to be even faster than the 2018-19 that was among the fastest in the league. The top of the speed chart is likely to be claimed by the third line centered by Erik Haula. Though the configuration may change, Wednesday should be a good preview for that with hustling kids Warren Foegele and Martin Necas on his wings. With Haula also leaning aggressive, it will be interesting to see to what degree this line pressures so much on the forecheck that defense in the neutral zone ends up being a non-issue. There is at least a potential that this group is light on read/react ability and therefore has the potential to have issues defending behind an aggressive F1/F2 attack when it gets beaten. In this vein, one of the issues with Martin Necas in his short NHL audition in 2018-19 was his inability to sort things out defensively in the middle of the ice. As a wing, he has less responsibility there, but that is not a 100 percent exemption from knowing when he can and cannot just pin his ears back and hound the puck.
The puck drops at 7:07pm at PNC Arena
CANES HOCKEY IS BACK Y’ALL!