Winning is incredibly fun even if it is only for four games.
The massive scoring outbursts over the past two games has also been fun.
No doubt there are multiple other levels for passionate fans to consider and evaluate the 2018-19 Carolina Hurricanes so far and the team’s trajectory for the rest of the season.
But in digging in the details, it is important not to lose track of how good 3-0-1 is and how fun the start of the season has been thus far.
As I said on Twitter after the game, after nearly failing to score and trigger the Petey Pablo ‘Raise Up’ goal song in the home opener, fans have since had a deluge of opportunities to hear the new song. Thirteen goals for in two game is not something that one sees very often.
Pros and cons
Despite the winning result, the game was probably the Hurricanes worst. The team was slow out of the gate for the first time this season which is worth noting. The sloppiness in terms of coverage carried over from Sunday. And the game continued a downward trend in terms of overall quality of play despite the winning result.
But the positives are significant too. The team continues to play with a can do/find a way attitude. Whereas in 2017-18, the team seemed to crumble at the smallest amount of misfortune, the 2018-19 Hurricanes so far have been the opposite. They just keep attacking and have emerged from deficits in consecutive wins with wins. In addition, winning is becoming normal for this team. Granted six of the games were preseason affairs, but the Hurricanes have now obtained at least a point in all ten games under Rod Brind’Amour. In changing the attitude and culture, that is significant.
The game started fortuitously enough when Jordan Staal flipped a fade away wrist shot toward the net. Markstrom seemed to lose the puck in a Jordan Martinook screen, and quickly the Hurricanes were up 1-0. But despite the early tally, the Hurricanes were sluggish and were outplayed early. Vancouver struck next when Dougie Hamilton got caught up ice and a stretch sprung Sven Baertschi behind him to go in alone and score. But when Brett Pesce scored his first of the season through a Sebastian Aho screen, the Hurricanes were up 2-1. And then when Micheal Ferland did his best Erik Cole impression storming to the net and creating a cloud of dust, Aho scored to post the Hurricanes to a 3-1 lead. The second period saw the Hurricanes break down defensively against the rush while on the penalty kill and more haphazard play. But two goals against were countered by a Andrei Svechnikov goal, and the team escaped to the third period with a 3-2 lead. The third period finally found some semblance of solid play, and when Warren Foegele fired a slap shot by Markstrom, the Hurricanes had what they needed to claim a 5-3 win.
On another loose night, Jaccob Slavin stood out as steady and sound. He was my first star of the game. Brind’Amour leaned heavily on him to the tune of a team high 23:33 of ice time. He also collected two assists on the night. Would be curious to hear if others agree that he looks faster this year. He consistently found and drove skating lanes through the neutral zone on Tuesday such that he forced the defense to back up and recover which made for easy zone entries regularly with Slavin toting the puck.
Fleury stood out by not standing out. After being a healthy scratch for the first three games, Fleury stepped in and played a strong game and looked up to speed.
He was made not quite as good as his Canes debut on Friday and three goals against is not a pretty stat line, but in a messy game, I think he was decent. He had little chance on what got by him and was generally sound in front of a defense that was not. So while maybe not as impressive as Friday’s start, I would consider Tuesday’s win a positive.
The ability of Jordan Staal’s line to keep the puck in the offensive zone is off the charts good right now and something not seen on the Hurricanes maybe since Rod Brind’Amour himself centered a line with big, physical wings Bates Battaglia and Erik Cole back during the first rising of Hurricanes hockey during the 2001-02 season. Throw in two goals, and the night just gets better for what has been a dominant line.
He is not ready. There…I said it. First let me be clear that nothing has changed with Necas’ ceiling. He is still a 19-year old with incredible skating ability and good offensive skills and still projects to be a top 6 scoring forward. But I increasingly believe that his development is better served by some time in the AHL. Two opposite things jump out at me. First, like many 19-year olds, he is just incredibly raw in terms of his play without the puck. He lost his man twice for goals against against the Rangers on Sunday, and just generally seems to lack the attention to detail needed at the NHL level. Maybe more significantly, he is not thriving even intermittently on offense right now. I think the version of Necas that does well offensively but is still learning defensively could be suited to develop at the NHL level. But even offensively, the game in terms of decision-making looks too fast for him right now. He had at least five or six times on Tuesday when he gave up the puck at random because he suddenly ran out of time and space.
I think Necas’ situation is one that the team needs to monitor closely. I think taking a player who is supposed to reach the caliber to drive wins and putting him in a situation where he needs to play up just to be serviceable or average is dangerous. I think too many years playing over his head significantly stunted Elias Lindholm’s development and put him in a situation where just becoming capable was a sizable accomplishment for him. I want players like Necas aiming way higher than that, and as such I think they benefit from playing at a level where they can be a difference-maker.
Lucas Wallmark’s line
Even though Aho’s line had a bigger night on the score sheet, I thought Wallmark’s line actually made a really strong case for being the Hurricanes second best line. Wallmark had an especially strong game just doing little things like taking away angles in the neutral zone and reading and reacting behind forechecking by Svechnikov and Martinook.
Penalty kill issues off the rush
The biggest single issue contributing to goals against on Tuesday was the team’s horrid defense of the rush when on the penalty kill. The Hurricanes gave up the first goal when Pesce leaned too far to the outside. When the Canucks player turned and beat Pesce to the middle, it was basically a 2-on-1 with speed and very quickly a goal against. The second power play goal by the Canucks was similar that the Canes gave up the blue line with speed and then failed to sort things out as the Canucks zipped the puck around and eventually scored. This one definitely falls under the category of game film work, as the team tries to keep its aggressive up ice shorthanded forecheck but also be able to better defend the defensive blue line.
I am burying this at the end, so just skip it altogether if you want to just enjoy two fun home wins. But I do not feel good about the team’s trajectory over the past two games. In each, the team has strayed significantly from sound defensive hockey. I get that playing an attacking style is part of Brind’Amour’s recipe, but winning regularly by outscoring a bunch of defensive break downs is simply not sustainable. In years past, these down trends seemed to almost always end with a massive thud. It will be interesting to see if Brind’Amour can help his team strike a balance before the loose play ends badly.
Next up is a three-day layoff before an abbreviated North Carolina State Fair road trip starts in Minnesota on Saturday.
This is ALL ABOUT RBA!
Finally we’ve got a REAL COACH!
Yes, several of the players are playing really good, and I don’t want to minimize that, but NOW I SEE the kids…and vets have totally bought into the CULTURE CHANGE…!
We see the effort and hard work ethic (where do you think that comes from), soooo…I’m getting some belief, this team is on the right track! Sooner or later,I see playoff games in the future!
My only caveat about this game was that once again we benefited from poor opposing goal-tending. Things will be tougher against top #1 goaltenders. On the other hand, how many times in past years have back up goalies stood on their heads against us? So that’s a nice change.
Hopefully opposing coaches will continue resting their #1’s against us for a while longer.
That was probably the cleanest and most effective Justin Faulk game i’ve seen in a long time. Very nice showing by him – and I was critical of De Haan in the first impressions page but he had an awesome night as well.
Jordan Staal continues to be a beast. Poor McGinn has been strapped with the only 3 forwards that haven’t played particularly well so far in Necas, Zykov and Disguiseppe. Expect Zykov back in for Diguiseppe after this one right?
Terevainen also deserves a kudos. Made many intelligent very small plays – he will be absolutely crucial this year to fill many of the tougher two-way minutes Lindholm ate up last year.
Carolina has three lines that can score consistently. Other teams can’t focus on Aho line. Staal’s line is vicious right now. Thanks Foegele for being awesome. The Wallmark line is getting their points as well. Necas line will get there.
Slavin was dominant in the third period. He is always really good but he was perhaps best player on the ice in third period. Fleury played well in a quiet way. I believe he was +2. He is better on natural side than TVR on off side.
Good and great teams find different ways to win. Carolina is developing that before our very eyes. Tough road trip ahead but this team does not seem afraid of the challenge.
Agree with previous post that Coach RBA has made a huge difference. He has instilled a new culture of hard work, accountability and fun hockey. Team has bought in to this way of doing things.
Yup, Z will be back. McGinn is still giving the effort. Just a matter of time.
The energy, the fun, and the compete are all there. Two fabulous lines, one getting there, and one missing the pieces to make it work. Faulk got the message and Slavin is back being Slavin. All good.
However…while we are scoring goals we are letting in far too many goals n defensive breakdowns – D-men out of position allowing the other team to get behind us on partial breakaways, forwards in the D-zone missing players cutting through the slot giving them open chances for bang-bang shots. As much as I like so much about what we are doing – and I have been big fan of the team since before training camp as a playoff team – these are the types of errors that can get us in a boatload of trouble if the other team can actually play defense (apparently not a forte of either the Rangers or Canucks) or engage in a close-checking affair (like the Isles did).
I really think we are going to know a lot more about what this team is made of after the Jets on the 14th and the Bolts on the 16th.
We let our in 3 goals and mac did not really have a chance. The only D thing was on the first goal. Hsmilton let Vancouver get behind him. It was a great pass and mac did everything he could on that one. The other two were both bounces. Lots of energy and some bad bounces. The D really stepped up in the third.
Maybe some loose play but I’ll take that when we are aggressive at the other end. The only negative was PDG. I do not believe he got back on the ice after that second penalty. Z will be back next game.
The second goal happened right in front of me, where I was sitting. The replays confirmed what my eyes saw – yes, it was a powerplay but somebody should have marked Horvat moving through the slot.
I would imagine that, similar to basketball, crashing the net limits your ability to defend in transition. There may be a balance to be found and there is definitely some fine-tuning especially with the young guys and getting Slavin-Hamilton up there defensively.
All that said, I think the nature of Rod’s game dictates that you’re going to allow a few more chances, but if you’re doing the right thing and crashing the net, like we’re doing, we’re going to score more. Pros and cons.
This! Rod even mentioned this in the post game presser. We certainly can make some improvements and tighten up the D but as long as we keep winning I don’t care if it is 3-1 or 5-3.
I had already agreed with you on the issue of defensive breakdowns. They are going to catch up (unless we’re the Maple Leafs, which we are not – yet…).
As for Necas I have had the impression that he is actually too fast for his linemates (McGinn, Zykov, PDG). He moves big and skates fast into a position, but there is nobody there where he would expect them to be. To me that is the biggest issue he is facing in playing on NHL ice. What does it take to put him in a position to succeed? – before his confidence gets stomped.
I actually want to find some tape on his plays to get a sense if my sense of him is online.
Wow. 3-0-1. Manageable schedule or not, this team is taking care of business. And boy, isn’t it nice to have the rest of the league looking UP at us, instead of starting off in a hole? I, for one, absolutely love what we’ve seen so far. The brand of hockey is exciting. The room seems to have bought in to RBA’s message early and seems to be having a lot of fun. Which is how it should be, but how it too often has not been in recent years. And they’re scoring! We haven’t exactly faced a bunch of elite goalies, but still. And we’re a ridiculous night from Thomas Greiss away from 4-0-0! It’s just a pleasure to watch these young, hungry kids like Foegele, Svechnikov, Aho. Not to mention the effect it’s having on the old heads like Staal and Williams who look absolutely energized as I stated in my season preview. And you touched on Slavin, he seems to have taken quite the step forward as well. Not sure I can accurately compare this year to last, but he absolutely seems lightning quick especially for a guy with his size. Just an incredible skater. Dougie seemed more involved offensively tonight (though with a few defensive breakdowns we’ll just have to live with), and I think soon those two are gonna start putting up serious points. Like, enough that Slavin could really sneak into the Norris conversation. Fleury also looked really solid. Did a great job getting the puck up the ice from the defensive zone quickly, something he too often struggled with last year. Broke up a few plays off the rush as well and generally played well enough to stay in the lineup, id imagine.
As far as Necas…
1. He needs to be playing on the wing.
2. He needs to be playing with better players. McGinn and DiG have not been good to start the year, and neither are good enough offensively to help create offense, open things up for him, or take advantage of what Necas does create. The solution, in my eyes, is to give him some new linemates. At least for a few games. I think it would be great to see him on the wing with Svechnikov and Wallmark. Maybe move Martinook to center? Before long Nicolas Roy might be ready for a bottom six role too if he keeps lighting the world on fire in Charlotte, so maybe he will allow Necas to make the transition. In my writeup this was a big point… so much less responsibility and action to process on the wing, especially for someone just getting his feet wet in the league. I’m not against him seeing some time in Charlotte if he continues to play poorly, which he definitely has. But I think a move to the wing could open him up to showcase his offensive creativity and prove he CAN contribute to a winning team right now.
I have two big concerns moving forward: can McElhinney continue to be excellent (not gonna blame him for two goals that deflected off our defensemen or a breakaway goal against) is the first, then of course the impact that has on Mrazek, who we need to be a serviceable goalie this year. Plus all the decisions that’ll eventually have to be made when Darling is back. Second worry would be: how is this loose, up and down, aggressive style going to fare against better, more disciplined teams – especially one’s with smart, puck moving defensemen – that can withstand the pressure and counterattack? I’d imagine playing Nashville or San Jose the odd man rushes against would be a problem. But that’s a gripe for another day. I love what this team is doing and I sure hope they keep it up. As if we needed a reminder… The future is very, very bright.
To be honest, Brandon, I am not sure why you would consider breaking up M-W-S – that line has been a true gift, with amazing chemistry and solid production; really a major reason for the team success to date.
Because I don’t expect Martinook and (to a lesser extent) Wallmark to be able to continue taking advantage of playing with a talent like Svechnikov. There have already been opportunities there that Andrei created that weren’t capitalized on. Martinook is an 8-10 goal scorer. Wallmark is a solid, responsible bottom six playmaker that does have a little offense in him. Andrei is not going to continue to play 10-11 minutes a night in an “ease-in” role. As an underrated passer and with his skill level and high-level offensive awareness already… at some point that isn’t taking advantage of his talents it could.
As well as it could.
Logical, but until it is necessary why would you do it? Svechnikov is also taking advantage of playing against lesser defensive players which does take some pressure off of him. It wouldn’t be so easy if he were with the Aho or Staal line. Moving players around isn’t even guaranteed to help Necas. Svechnikov will be there soon enough.
I must agree with tj. Breaking up three lines that are working well to maybe help one player is not a good idea. Necas is struggling mightily 5 on 5. It seems the jump to the NHL is a bit much. Unless he makes big improvements in the next several weeks I think a trip to Charlotte is in order. I’m not sure it can wait until Rask returns.
As far as being “too fast for his linemates”….well, Necas is too fast for 80% of the NHL. Kid can fly. He has to learn to harness that. Has to learn how to play when he can’t blow by and through everyone else. Has to learn the game. Lots of physical talent. Hope the head catches up.
Depending on when he comes back, I believe you could put Necas on the wing with Rask.
Another really fun game to watch. When the team can score goals in bunches, it covers up the evils. It is a great blessing. Also, 4 games in 6 days is a vicious way to start a season. We are very fortunate to come out of it 3-0-1 and only one injury (Darling), which is of the not so serious variety.
That said, Necas needs to be reassigned now to develop, before he completely loses his game. Not just because of all the things he is doing wrong, but also because he makes his line mates worse. It is the opposite of Foegele. So far, Zykov and PDG are in the doghouse and Brock McGinn looks like he forgot how to play hockey. On a team where accountability is a core tenet, a move needs to be made now. It is not fair to ruin other players careers or drag team mates down, particularly when we have Kuokkanen and Roy lighting it up in Charlotte. They have earned a shot.
At first I liked the idea of moving him to wing but on second thought I don’t think it is the right move for the player or team.
Last night Necas reminded me of Ryan Murphy with the puck. He looks used to skating around people, and when that doesn’t work, dumps the puck. Instead his movement should be purposeful and create passing lanes before pressure arrives.
I hate feeling the need to say that and apologize if anyone found it harsh.
So on to better things.
To me the game was a bit of a “tale of two cities”. The first half of the game featured a “repeatable formula for success” on offense contrasted with sloppiness on D, the second half was the opposite.
Offensively in the second part of the game, instead of working bodies and pucks into the slot, we started throwing everything at the goaltender, often with no traffic in front. Many shots that only go in when the goalie is caught sleeping, BP era stuff. If we can combine first half O with second half D we’ve got something trending in the direction that can beat good teams.
RBA is the right man for the job, and with their first break of the season, the coaching staff will have time to assess and adjust.
The Canes have played 4 games in 6 days with a B2B that included a road game. The 3 days to assess, adjust and recover come at a good time. The next 4 games will take 11 days to complete. The physical and mental process will be different for the team in the next 4 game span. This will be a good test for RBA’s ability to get the team to start games on time.
I do completely agree with your assessment here regarding Necas. He isn’t just bad but he is making his linemates worse. Let him go down and sort it out.
Offensively it isn’t going to be pretty to run out two 4Cs but at least Bishop/Roy/Brown are physically more prepared and probably a bit more suited to the 10 minutes a night Necas is getting.
I’d like to see Wallmark get a chance to center that great scoring line from the AHL a couple years ago and play with Zykov and McGinn.
For me the biggest positive are the consistently strong, almost dominant, 3rd periods. The fitness, size with speed, high compete level in the final period is a complete 180 from the Francis/Peters era. The “committee” system put together by Dundon, conducted by Waddell and implemented by Brind’amor functioned adroitly from the Martinook/Kruger trade to the McElhinney wire pick up. It’s early but it is clear this is not”your father’s Cadillac.”
You have touched on something by praising “the committee.”
This is how most organizations work. Maybe in hockey, I don’t know…never worked for a NHL franchise. I have heard from many that Francis was making most decisions on his own. Not looking for others input. Explains a lot. Explains why his decisions were so inconsistent and why he didn’t get along with Dundon. Say what you will about Dundon, but he does have good hockey people around him that will help him make decisions. (He is the actual GM you know.)
It was a good win last night. Helped out by poor goaltending from Vancouver. Many have pointed out defensive breakdowns by defensemen, which are true. At the same time the forwards don’t seem to have the same passion for backchecking that they do for forchecking. That will need to change as well because there will always be defensive breakdowns. Players aren’t perfect. The forwards need to be there to help out when they happen. So far, they haven’t been in many cases.
It was a tour de force for Slavin last night. His skating and handle was on display for all to see. He seems to have found the right combination of defense and offense. Seemed a bit too concerned about jumping in the play and going to the net last season. This season he jumps, moves the puck, and gets back in position. Slavin worked hard all summer, longer than Darling, with Burniston. He is stronger than ever. Hope he gets the recognition he deserves. If the Canes stay at the top of the league I think he will.
Fleury was very good last night. Looks confident with and without the puck. I was hoping for this version of Fleury and I think the Canes have it. Too much to ask of TVR to play his off side at the NHL level. A trade may be in order at some point.
I don’t think McGinn has forgotten how to play hockey. McGinn is a defense first and complimentary offensive player. He is playing with other players that are supposed to be better offensively. McGinn is still in the right places, but there is no one creating squat on that line. McGinn isn’t a creator for himself or others. He will be fine if they find someone for him to work off of.
Necas…whew…not good. Looks like he is starting to drown. At first his issues were mostly without the puck. Now he is struggling with the puck. Not good. I thought Roy was playing too slow in the preseason games, but seems to have stepped it up in Charlotte. May need to see him sooner rather than later.
I agree the Canes are giving up way too much defensively. Still, the train is rolling and there is no reason to stop the momentum while it is there. I suspect at some point it will go badly for them in a game and that will give Brind’Amour a teaching moment. A time to make his point about playing the right way, backchecking as well as forchecking,etc. The time will come.
LTS, great observation on McGinn, he could be going to right places with no reward for his effort. I just noticed him looking frustrated.
RBA said it best about the defense. When you play aggressively you will give up a few on the backend. And you just have to learn to live with that, it is the price of admission for ringing up the scoreboard.
However the breakdowns that are not the result of aggressive offense they will get cleaned up. These next couple of days will be first chance to get real ice time since opening day. I expect to see visible improvement over the course of October and November.
This is fun! I look forward to seeing how they learn and evolve… while lighting it up!
Tripp touched on it last night. The starting and stopping and changes of direction on O are what wears out the D and gives us an advantage in the third period. Foegele is amazing at it and the whole Staal line is bringing direction changes that payoff over the course of the game. I haven’t seen that kind of strategy since Laviolette, and I love that style of play.
I am thrilled with the hockey I’ve seen so far this season compared to season’s past and I think everyone else should be, too. Style points don’t count, wins do, and we’ve collected 7 of 8 possible points so far this year.
Again, the one trait of this team that will/should keep us competitive in almost all games is our effort, speed, and relentless pursuit of the puck over 60 minutes. We got off to a slow start last night – that’s going to happen sometimes – but found our game and look what happened. Our style of play is working; I wouldn’t deviate from it until it stops working.
It’s easy to say that the opposing goaltending in the last two games was weak – and maybe it was – but how often last season did we make it look stronger than it actually was? In the games when the other goaltender played well we still collected 3 of 4 points.
I actually think our 3rd period was one of the best of the season. VAN played fast and the game felt to me that it could go either way – “next goal wins” type of game – but we scored and, negative views of our defense notwithstanding, VAN didn’t, and we gave up very few quality chances down the stretch. We actually protected a lead. It’s a game we might have squandered last season.
Necas had a poor game and we all know he is in the NHL a little ahead of schedule. But it’s one game. I’m all for accountability but I’m also for working-the-plan and this seems to be the plan for Necas. Let’s see how he does over the next handful before rushing to judgement.
I’m for seeing more of Fleury.
First place, baby.
One other thing happened last night that Justin Williams.needs to address. Foegele got his head knocked off in a dirty hit to the face with less than two minutes left in the game. It was not an attempt to get back in the game, but rather an admission by VAN that the game was over so take a cheap shot on a rookie.
And nobody came to Fiegele’s defense. Justin Williams as captain should address, teams need to stand up for each other.
I really didn’t think that hit was so bad. Yeah, it caught him in the chin a bit, but it wasn’t targeted there. I know Tripp Tracy went on about Edler and his hit on Staal, but that is an anomaly for Edler. He’s a pretty clean player.
Foegele had better expect a lot more of that. They way he buzzes around down low teams are going to try to slow him down by taking the body. Part of the game.
Foegele will be targeted all year the way he plays. Yes he better get used to it.
In addition, he should get used to teammates who have his back. If the hit is questionable, then there needs to be a response.
The two best things so far for me
Third periods with a lead. Last year nothing less than a 3 goal lead would make me even hesitantly optimistic that the Canes would squeak out a W. The team started looking timid and nervous. If they escaped the game with a W it felt like incredible luck. This year the team can push with a lead. They don’t let up and manage to have a swagger about them. The sample is small but the attitude is markedly different.
The other is the scoring. The Canes were the second highest scoring team yesterday, only behind the Leafs. This is not sustainable and it can be explained by poor opponent goalie play, but last year the Canes made almost every backup goalie look like Lundkvist and made him look even better.
Necas needs to take a bus down to Clt and get some quality minutes on a top line down there (heck I’ll even drive him and get him some quality Cajun food on the way and a beer or 3, the kid looks nervous and in need of a relaxer. We’ll take Roy or Kuekanen in return for a month or two. The kid is overwhelmed and needs time to adjust to the North American game. No shame in that.