An important disclaimer is that my consumption of the Hurricanes game on Wednesday night was Chuck Kaiton’s play by play, and I even missed a chunk of the second period. So needless to say, my viewpoint is limited.
Nevertheless, here are my impressions of the game and what it means for working toward a final roster over the next 4-6 days.
Most notable and maybe not that surprising is that the Hurricanes mustered significantly more offense. I say not surprising because the lineup featured arguably the top 2 scoring lines for the team and only 1 AHL line. Also notable was that the Hurricanes won and that Jeff Skinner scored a big goal with a shootout winner in addition to picking up an assist earlier in the game. Eddie Lack continued what has been a strong preseason for him in picking up the win.
‘What I’m watching’ checkpoints
You can find the fairly detailed preview HERE.
Justin Faulk was pick-pocketed in the neutral zone for an uncontested breakaway which is obviously not a good data point, but past that audio did not provide enough indication for me to vote strongly either way on how the top defense pairing looked.
2) Arrival of the offense
As noted above, with much more of the Canes NHL scoring fire power in the lineup, the team seemed to muster significantly more on offense. In addition to goals, there were more chances and at least 1 goal post along the way. We will not really know for sure until we see what happens in real games, but there is at least hope that the slow games were lineup-induced.
3) The power play system
Again, without visual, it is hard to say too much. But data points include a power play goal with Teravainen making what Chuck Kaiton described as a pretty pass to Elias Lindholm for the finish. On the other side of the ledger, the Canes gave up a shorthanded goal on a 2-on-1 rush that seemed to start from the far blue line. I noted the ongoing trial that sees Justin Faulk shifted more to the center as the trigger man and no true point to offset him. Instead, Aho and Tervainen flex between a top/point position and playing forward on the half wall. I noted in my preview the risk of giving up more odd man rushes if the forward gets too deep or even just gets caught too far wide on a turnover. I would love to have video to see if that was the issue on Tuesday’s oops, but no such luck.
4) Try outs
For the second consecutive time, Warren Foegele’s preseason action was on an audio only night, but in both cases his name made a regular appearance in Chuck Kaiton’s call which is a good thing. He seems to have the combination of decent quickness, skating ability and always on, Gerbe-like tenacity that makes for a great depth forward. He is still a long shot to make the 2016-17 roster, but his stock is rising. Roland McKeown scored a goal. I am not sure Wallmark or Tolchinsky did enough to climb into the opening night roster mix. Fleury was paired with McKeown and at last play by play-wise, they did not seem to stand out negatively.
5) Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen
Both players seemed to make a few plays on Tuesday night. With Aho new to North America, Teravainen new to the Hurricanes and all 3 players on that line new to playing together, perhaps they just need a little time to find chemistry.
A few other quick notes
Jeff Skinner: It is only preseason, but in only a handful of games, he has notched a late power play goal to push a game to overtime and now a shootout winner in addition to being a regular going concern offensively. He seems ready to pick up where he left off with a strong finish to 2015-16 which is obviously a positive.
Eddie Lack: I wrestle with my general rule of thumb that preseason means virtually nothing for goalies and allowing some optimism for a strong preseason. Regardless of which is right, Lack has done what he can in preseason.
The best news of all might be that we are almost within a week of real hockey, and with the final preseason game at home, we have made it through the preseason struggle with audio only games and jittery video streams.
Next up is probably another round of cuts tomorrow, a final preseason tune up on Friday and then 5 days to get ready for real hockey.