With an intensity level and atmosphere much above ho-hum preseason level, the Hurricanes closed out its preseason schedule with a 4-3 loss to the Washington Capitals.
With free tickets for the Caniac Carnival day, the event was a sell out. And with the NHL version of the Capitals that lost to the Hurricanes last April in town, the intensity level and chippiness on the ice were both also high.
The result was as good of an atmosphere as you can get for a preseason game.
In terms of readying for the games that matter, the game was a mixed bag. Abbreviated notes follow below:
Teravainen/Aho/Svechnikov played like one would hope from a strong first scoring line. Who netted two goals and Svechnikov and Teravainen were also dangerous all game.
The biggest downside was the continued lack of attention to detail defensively. The team continues to give up too many grade A chances off the rush and losing track of players in scoring areas.
I thought Slavin/Hamilton rebounded well after a tough night on Friday.
I thought the fourth line centered by Wallmark was quietly good. Wallmark had a strong game battling for ice space in front of the goalie creating havoc on multiple shots but not garnering a goal for his effort. Similarly, Gauthier made plays toting the puck to the front of the net like a fullback charging for a first down. Those too netted nothing but continue to be positive. But if that duo stuck as a fourth line and played every game like Sunday’s they would be a very productive group.
The game forced the Hurricanes to stand up for themselves. Public enemy #1 Tom Wilson was running around a bit and barking at Warren Foegele (because of the hit that injured T.J. Oshie in the playoffs) every chance he could. Garnet Hathaway was running around the entire game. Roland McKeown fought Hathaway. The Canes took a series of penalties in the second period returning fire. In a regular season game with greater consequences, the Canes will need to be able to answer without piling up 5-on-3 situations against. But in a preseason game, I think the response was okay.
Roland McKeown continues to have a strong training camp. I have not ever been really high on his chances to be more than a #5 or #6 defenseman. But at least until Trevor van Riemsdyk returns, the Hurricanes need one of those. I would expect Fleury to get the start on opening night, but I think McKeown has made a strong enough case to be considered quickly if Fleury falters.
We are not only four days away from Carolina Hurricanes 2019-20 regular season hockey!