In a Halloween matinee, the Hurricanes remained perfect on the season with a 2-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. It took a power play goal inside of three minutes to play to pull out the win.
My notes follow.
1) Less impressive but maybe good for the process
On the scoreboard, the win was less impressive than many other recent wins. The Canes trailed for a bit, managed only two goals and required a late power play goal to pull out the win. But I think the win was a good on in two respects. First, the level of play was not significantly less than other recent games. For the first time this week, the Hurricanes did not manage a random carom goal and did not really catch any breaks. Opportunities were there for a 4-1 win. Further, I think having to scratch and claw a bit in close games is generally a positive for playing the right way. As fun as Friday’s shinny win over Chicago was, it is not a recipe for good hockey or playoff wins. So a hard-fought 2-1 win to follow it up hopefully helps a bit with staying grounded.
2) A big first
The Canes continued a run of firsts. On Thursday, Tony DeAngelo netted his first Canes goal and the first for a defenseman this season. On Friday, Antti Raanta made his first start as a Cane and picked up his first win with Derek Stepan’s first Canes goal too. Sunday followed up with Martin Necas’ and Brett Pesce’s first goals of the season and also Seth Jarvis’ first NHL game and point scored.
Most significant was Necas’ goal. What looked like a harmless shot flung from the blue line with no screen somehow found the back of the net. He has been pressing of late and had a few Svechnikov-like plays trying to do too much or just losing focus. Hopefully netting a goal relieves pressure and gets him back on course.
3) Better than 2-1 would indicate
I thought the Canes played better than 2-1 would indicate. Whereas the team has shown an uncanny knack to not play great and then suddenly get and capitalize on a couple scoring chances to sprint out the lead, Sunday was the opposite. Andrei Svechnikov had two pretty good looks on the back door on the power play but missed the net on both. Steven Lorentz had two good chances on the rush courtesy of Seth Jarvis passes, but neither found a hole through the goalie. And the Hurricanes registered a few other misses on decent chances. In general, the chances were there which is often a better measure of level of play than the goals scored. Even the power play which did not score until the very end was decent (not great) with the two Svechnikov chances and others to note. The Canes puck chucking included 39 shots on net, 13 shots that missed the net and 23 more that were blocked, so it is not as if the volume was not there.
4) Seth Jarvis
Seth Jarvis looked good and was very productive in his NHL debut. As noted above, he made two nifty passes to spring Steven Lorentz. He also had a seeming goal following up another chance off the rush. He shot into an open net only to hit a defenseman in the leg to be denied. And in the end he did net an assist. The most obvious ‘still developing’ point for him was having defensemen twice one-on-one off the rush just physically move him and take the puck. He reminded me a bit of v1.0 Sebastian Aho in his rookie year in that regard. Early in his NHL time, Aho’s go-to to make time and space off the rush was to drive the offensive blue line and then pull up. As wing, it worked fine for him to get his feet under him. It was only later when he moved to center that Aho became more comfortable carrying the puck into tighter spaces in the middle of the rink and being able to protect the puck. Jarvis will need to become a bit stronger on his skates such that he can protect the puck a bit better, but more significantly the adjustment is being able to handle and protect the puck without a ton of space. He has good hockey sense and vision such that it is reasonable to expect him to pick these things up just like Aho did.
5) Brett Pesce
With a skill set heavier on steady than spectacular, Brett Pesce probably gets less than his fair share of words in these recaps, so scoring a big game-winner late on the power play definitely deserves mention. After not scoring early in the season, the Canes blue line now has three goals scored (other two were DeAngelo).
Next up for the Hurricanes is a very road-heavy November. The team plays 10 of 13 games on the road in November starting with a quick turnaround and rematch with the Blackhawks in Chicago on Wednesday.