In a game that was very much a mixed bag, the Hurricanes led but ultimately fell 2-1 in overtime the Nashville Predators. In total, I though the game was a lackluster effort that did have some positives but overall was not great. Reduced to something pretty similar to last year’s group with injuries to Jake Gardiner and Ryan Dzingel the power play was ‘meh’. The offense in total was uninspiring. The forecheck was not overly effective which forced the team to rely on an intermittent collection of individual plays to generate offense. And maybe of greatest concern, the team’s defense had a few too many break downs. Whereas the team was rolling at this time last year, the group seems to be sputtering a bit right now and also suddenly facing some injury issues.
Below are my short notes on the game:
This defensive duo seemed to start okay and then just degrade as the game wore on. The low point occurred in the third period when they took turns pinching and getting caught out of position to generate a 2-on-1 against the other. Hamilton in general had one of those games where his decision-making with and without the puck was not great. Slavin also had some issues. Many may not remember, but this duo actually struggled early in 2018-19 before later being reunited and playing better. A couple good games to start the 2018-19 season were followed by a tough adjustment period for Hamilton that gradually saw Slavin catch the disease and also take a step down in play. Both players later rebounded when they were separated and Hamilton was temporarily relegated to the third pairing to get his feet under him. That history is worth watching heading into the regular season.
2) Warren Foegele
He is really fighting it. He had four decent chances with the puck on his stick in close and chose to pass each and every time. He just seems to lack confidence and be overthinking things right now.
3) Sebastian Aho
Especially early in the game, I thought Aho was a positive. He was buzzing around the offensive zone and dangerous especially in the first period.
4) Andrei Svechnikov
Svechnikov’s game was two sides of a coin. On the positive side, I thought he had a strong game offensively despite not scoring. But on the negative side, he took two minor penalties, and the second one especially was a poster child for his intermittent issues with taking brief pauses, being caught out of position and then lifting his stick to pick up an automatic obstruction type penalty.
4) Petr Mrazek
Mrazek looked very sharp through two periods of play. Earlier in preseason he caught some ice time where he was mostly untested, but that was not the case on Friday. He had a few good breakaway saves and others from point blank range on a night when the Hurricanes defense was a bit porous.
5) Gustav Forsling
Forsling too regularly lets players get behind him. He had two more such episodes on Friday.
6) Julien Gauthier
He was not as impressive as he was in the first couple preseason games, but he did make plays to get the puck to the front of the net again and also to take shots. At some point production is necessary to get credit, but so far I am content to believe that if Gauthier keeps playing the way he is that enough points will follow.
Next up for the Hurricanes is the preseason finale on Sunday.