Recap of Hurricanes 7-3 win over the Blue Jackets
On Monday night in Raleigh, the story was a familiar one with the Hurricanes actually struggling a bit but ultimately finding the Turbo button and blowing past an opponent.
Maybe a notch lower than the horrendous second period recently against Dallas but still pretty bad, the Hurricanes failed to start on time. A defensive coverage breakdown on the first shift of the game left to an uncontested goal against. The Hurricanes seemed to be fine covering a 3-on-3 rush until Warren Foegele abandoned one of two players headed toward the crease in favor of heading out to defend the point. The result was a tap in goal. Columbus scored again just over five minutes later when they fed the puck right through the crease. Hamilton was actually in position and engaged with goal scorer Boone Jenner but ultimately lost the battle. James Reimer could have been better using his stick to take away the pass across that went right through the blue paint and also maybe could have absorbed the first weak shot instead of weakly kicking it right back to Jenner’s stick for a rebound chance and goal. Sebastian Aho would fire and score from just inside the top of the face-off circle to pull the Hurricanes within a goal, but the Canes would give it right back. Reimer took a shot off the mask and then had no idea where the puck was. Kevin Stenlund deftly baseball-batted it from well out and a tough angle into the to give Columbus a 3-1 lead. But Jordan Staal would continue his scoring surge late in the first period to pull the Hurricanes to within 3-2. And with that, the Hurricanes again thumbed their noses at the hockey gods and started on their way to another fun, even if imperfect, win.
After the first period, I said on Twitter:
Could it be another chapter in the 2020-21 @Canes story entitled, "There is no level of badness that the Hurricanes cannot overcome for a victory?"
— Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) February 16, 2021
And that is exactly the path this game took. After a shaky first period and really even front part of the second period, James Reimer seemed to settle down, and at the same time the Canes offense led by McGinn/Aho/Teravainen found the ignition switch. Within the first two minutes of the second period, McGinn finished a pretty Teravainen feed, and Teravainen sniped one up under the bar from in close to quickly turn a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead. Nino Niederreiter would finish another pretty Teravainen play where he received a pass on his skate, played it directly to his stick and then fed Niederreiter in front of the net all seemingly in one motion. The second late period goal of the game sent the Hurricanes to the locker room up 5-3 after winning the second period 3-0.
The third period was mostly just piling on. McGinn and Staal both added their second goals of the game, and the Hurricanes sprinted away to a 7-3 win.
The latter two periods were a step in the right direction in terms of upping the soundness of play. The Hurricanes kept the recent high-powered offense but at the same time cut down on the looseness that has plagued them too regularly in recent games.
As I said shortly after the game, it is not hard to like a 7-3 win nor is it hard to like the team’s 10-3-0 record, imperfections aside.
Player and other notes
1) Coming out party – Teuvo Teravainen
He has shown flashes after a slow start to the season with his COVID delay, but Monday was by far his best game of the season. He had two of the pretty assists that are his trademark, a goal, a secondary assist and another goal waived off. Teravainen came within an inch or so on an offsides call of a five-point night.
2) Train keeps rolling – Brock McGinn
I do not get the people who are dying to pull Brock McGinn of the top line. The line is producing right now, and McGinn is one of the drivers not a passenger. As I said on Twitter during the game, he understands his role and what he brings to that line. He does the work on the boards and on the forecheck winning/keeping puck possession but when not needed for that, he is incredibly diligent and consistent at just going where goals happen and being ready to receive and shoot. That simplicity is making him available as a shooting option off the pass, and right now he is finishing at a high rate.
3) The deal with the devil? — Jordan Staal
Maybe to no one’s surprise at the point, Jordan Staal was the other leader of the scoring output past the first line. He notched two more goals to give him seven on the season. Staal’s 14 points and 6 goals projects to 45 goals and 105 points over 82 games which is nearly 3 times his scoring pace from 2019-20.
4) Jake Bean
Stepping into the lineup in Haydn Fleury’s slot, Jake Bean had a productive game. He picked up his first NHL point on a secondary assist and added a primary assist when he got a shot through for a deflection goal. He did have one ‘oops’ defensively where Reimer had to bail him out, but all in all two points and a plus two in 13:43 of ice time as a positive as he tries to play his way up to the NHL level.
5) Jake Gardiner
He continues to play incredibly well. He has been mostly unnoticeable in a good way defensively, and his playmaking ability that was maybe buried beneath his 2019-20 struggles has emerged. He had a small play on a keep in to help make one goal possible, a pretty passing play to the front of the net and a couple other plays moving the puck to generate offense. The season is early, but I would go far as to say he has been the Canes second best defenseman behind only Brett Pesce so far this season. (Brady Skjei has also been steady in a good way.) Good for him. I was very hard on his play in 2019-20 (rightfully so in my opinion), so it is important to give credit when/where it is due.
6) James Reimer
Part of it might be that I am a ‘prove it’ skeptic right now, but I am torn on which direction to go with James Reimer. In total, I grade him as a positive. He did settle in and was unscored upon for two periods while the Hurricanes pulled ahead. But he was still ‘meh’ in the first period even if there were some odd plays around him and more significantly he still just seems to be having trouble finding/tracking the puck. A number of saves seemed to just hit him
7) Balanced ice time
One thing that jumps out as odd in looking at the box scores is the time on ice. The top line of Aho, Teravainen and McGinn logged only 12:37, 12:13 and 11:05. Maybe wanting to see his new fourth line in action, Brind’Amour rolled four lines throughout the game, and the new fourth line of Martinook/Paquette/Fast actually played more.
Next up for the Hurricanes is an odd 5pm match up against the Florida Panthers on Wednesday.