After what was mostly a good game in a season-opening win against the Red Wings, the second game of the set was a step backwards for the Hurricanes. The first two periods were rough to say the least. I think the root cause of all that failed the Hurricanes through two periods and in general the game was just sloppiness. The game very much looked like the bad version of a fairly common preseason game where the ability to move the puck from stick to stick just was not there.
The result was mostly a disjointed effort to move the puck out of the defensive zone or through the neutral zone with any pace or cohesion.
Brett Pesce and Brady Skjei generally defended okay in their own end, but the two seem to be out of sync in terms of know where to be and how to support each other when the other has the puck. Skjei has multiple times eaten pucks on the boards behind the net in the defensive zone. And Pesce has uncharacteristically been using risky outlets to get the puck moving north/south including a turnover to the middle of the ice on Saturday.
After a generally solid game on Thursday, Jake Gardiner and Haydn Fleury had a tough night on Saturday. The Red Wings first goal saw both of them sort of in the right place to defend a pass from behind the end line to right between the circles. But both seemed a bit lost in terms of taking away the passing lane to the front of the net that led to a bang bang play and a goal. Fleury added to the woes by handing off the puck at the offensive blue line for an uncontested breakaway and then again sort of just hanging out defensively in front of the net instead of identifying and defending the eventual goal scorer for the Red Wings’ second goal.
The forwards in general
The forward group in general mostly looked disjointed. The choppy ice conditions were definitely part of it, but there was also an element of just being out of sync. Even Aho and Teravainen seemed a bit off after a strong showing on Thursday.
Minus Jordan Staal
It is hard to say if Saturday’s weak effort had to do with missing captain Jordan Staal, but the team definitely missed him in the face-off circle. Face-offs can be a bit overrated, but a deficit in this facet of the game can be significant in terms of puck possession which it was on Saturday.
Bigger picture perspective and positives
So in total, Saturday’s game was not a good one. But as I said on Twitter shortly after the game ended, I think one must allow for teams to have one or two games early where it just looks like preseason…because in terms of games played, it is. Time will tell if giving up points to Detroit is as bad as it was in 2019-20, but starting the season 1-1 will not be catastrophic by itself if the Hurricanes can tighten things up again fairly quickly.
I actually liked Svechnikov/Trocheck/Necas early in the game. Trocheck can match the pace of the kids, and the trio can play the type of style where they pressure the defense simply by forcing them to do everything at high speed. The trio seemed to fade after a fast start and did not finish the game together. Nonetheless, I hope Brind’Amour returns to this line and gives it some time. Vincent Trocheck also scored on a power play deflection.
Of Canes players looking for a fresh start in 2020-21, all of Niederreiter, Dzingel and Trocheck have scored which is a positive.
A lot of it has been on the power which has a bit more room to maneuver with the puck, but Martin Necas is gradually becoming more comfortable playing with the puck on his stick. He still has a tendency to move laterally without first checking to be certain of the path ahead which can be dangerous. (Hopefully coaches are working with him on that.) But in general, Necas’ increasing confidence with the puck on his stick bodes well for him starting to generate more scoring chances from his skating ability for him and his line mates.
His game still seems a bit off too, but with his goal on Saturday he is up to three points already counting his empty-netter on Thursday. Being able to produce some offensively even in down times is the hallmark of a great scorer.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Given the odd start to the season, are you willing to accept a preseason-ish game or two as just part of ramping up? Or was Saturday’s game a sign of bigger problems?
2) What stood out to you as the biggest factor in the Canes struggles on Saturday?
3) What positives can you find sorting through the wreckage?
1. If you want to blame last night’s loss on no preseason you have to acknowledge that DET was playing under the same circumstances – I am not sure that 4 extra days of training camp would help a team get ready for real play.
One thesis I heard last night after the game is that the team that loses the first game is going to come out stronger in the second. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.
2. I actually thought there were a lot of similarities between the two games. DET was faster on ice and passes were much better and a lot of grade A chance because of their control of play in our d-zone. In fact I kept thinking the red team was CAR – DET was almost playing CAR hockey.
The biggest issue was clearing the d-zone – DET had us pinned back in the d-zone for much of both games. I had identified puck clearing in the d-zone as a danger factor before the season started and we saw that again in both games, including takeaways at the blue line. Again, too many breakaways and grade A chances because we couldn’t get the puck or clear it effectively.
And it didn’t matter what Canes players were on ice – you can’t bad games by Gardiner and Fleury for our struggles in the d-zone. It was a team effort.
3. The third period was solid – we played with speed and more precision. Trocheck looked solid. I love the way Svech was playing the whole game and he dialed it up a notch in the 3rd. He put the team on his back – superstar in the making.
How does a professional team come out unready to play in only the second game? That is a bad sign. Is it that way to be distracted?
The two game series are going to be an adjustment for these guys. Maybe they should have skated on the off day. It’s more like college hockey where is definitely is harder to win the second game coming off a win.
I wouldn’t get too worked up over that loss, yet. Brind’Amour rarely throws his team under the bus and this game was no different. They weren’t just sloppy, they were outworked for two periods. Rarely did the Canes win a race to the puck, nor did they win many battles once they got there. As Trocheck said, Florida wanted it more.
Brind’Amour is also trying to influence Svechnikov to play like he did in the third, which was great. Until then he had been in Superstar mode letting everyone else do the work and get the puck to him. That won’t work. It’s why Svechnikov was put down to Martinook’s line to get him working. He did.
I wasn’t too concerned with the D pairings as they were not getting the support they needed. Yes, Fleury had a couple “oops” moments, but unless that becomes a habit it doesn’t concern me.
The only player than I am wondering about is Foegele. He’s been a big zero so far. Other than losing battles and giving up pucks I haven’t noticed him a bit. I know he isn’t top 6 material, but currently he’s not doing squat. When Staal comes back I would propose Foegele take a seat.
Agree about fogs… he just hasn’t done much….hope it changes.