Though it is only about the midway point of preseason, Monday night’s match up against the Oilers figured to be a good test. The Hurricanes just looked faster in all three zones from the outset and eventually rode the advantage to an easy 6-2 win.
The game was not a great one for a couple evaluation points. Making his first preseason start, Scott Darling saw almost nothing for shots early until things picked up later. And because the Hurricanes were so dominant winning loose pucks, on the forecheck and in the neutral zone, the defense encountered a very manageable situation through about half of the game before the play did start to balance out at least to some degree.
Here are a few notes following up on my ‘what I’m watching’ list from earlier today:
1) Scott Darling
As noted above, the game did not present a preferable tune up with a steady amount of medium quality chances. The few times, Darling did see shots early, he was fighting the puck just trying to get a piece of it. The first Edmonton goal came on a juicy rebound that he left right in front of him, and he generally had pucks carom off him at random all night. Important to note is that it was his first start and also that he only allowed two goals which is far from a disaster.
2) The blue line
The fact that the forwards seemed to either win or steal every puck in the offensive zone and neutral zone made for a favorable situation for the defensemen. But when called upon as the game wore on, the defense was mostly solid against a mostly NHL lineup with some high end talent. Slavin did lose a battle in front for the first goal, but in total I thought the defense looked to be tracking toward being ready on October 7.
3) My turn
With Martin Necas being the focus of most of the prospect/youth buzz right now, Janne Kuokkanen had a huge effort that will reclaim some of the attention. He collected three points and displayed a varied offensive tool bag in the process. He fired a laser of a one-timer for a goal, fed Jordan Staal with a pretty pass on the rush and collected another assist. At least for now, Kuokkanen is playing on the wing which is more likely to offer an opening than the center position which is booked up.
4) A few other player notes
Teuvo Teravainen: He probably ranks second behind only Derek Ryan right now for being ready to go offensively.
Jordan Staal: It was good to see him finish when given a couple opportunities.
Martin Necas: The fluid and effortless skating is always there as is the comfort level playing with the puck on his stick in the middle of the rink, but he had a quieter day overall on Monday.
Next up is a rematch against the Edmonton Oilers in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on Wednesday night.