On the one hand, I really do not think the Hurricanes are playing their best hockey yet. No doubt there are many positive elements, but sloppiness is being covered up a bit too much by Frederik Andersen. On the other hand, the decent not great version of this team is good enough to regularly win by multiple goals. After years of struggling to be near perfect to to try eek out a win, how fun is that change?
Quick notes from the 5-1 win follow
1) The power of high-end finishing
The recurring story that has carried over from the 2020-21 season is the Hurricanes ability to convert scoring chances into goals. The power of skill and finishing that was almost non-existent for the team for a decade has now become a huge strength. That scoring ability gives the Hurricanes to win almost any game just by converting at a high rate.
The line continues to be the team’s best. As I said on Twitter during the game, once they get the puck to the end wall in the offensive zone, they are nearly impossible to handle, especially for smaller defensemen. Niederreiter and Staal are just pushing people around right now and generating scoring chances in the process.
3) Another sloppy effort for the blue line
The game started with bad defensive zone turnovers by Tony DeAngelo and Ian Cole for immediate good scoring chances against. As noted above, Andersen’s strong play right now is erasing the exclamation points on bad plays such that they mostly go unnoticed as no big deal. The team had multiple other bad turnovers that were similarly erased by Andersen. Ian Cole had an especially tough night with two bad defensive zone turnovers, being beaten to the outside once and taking a penalty. But despite the sloppiness early in the season, I think the potential upside is still intact.
4) Special teams
The Canes power play scored three while the penalty kill was touched up only once on a 5-on-3. On a game with a good number of special teams chances, that could have evened things up for the Blue Jackets but instead only pushed the Canes farther ahead.
5) Vincent Trocheck
On a night when many Canes found the score sheet, Vincent Trocheck was the scoring leader with three points. He had a pretty finish chipping a nice Svechnikov pass into the net, a lunch pail goal as net front presence on the power play and an assist to boot.
6) Frederik Andersen
The 5-1 margin makes goaltending look less significant than it was. As noted above, the Hurricanes were not great defensively. Andersen had to serve as a mistake eraser on multiple occasions and was up to the task.
Next up for the Hurricanes is the first of three games at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night at PNC Arena.