Toronto scored first, and the Hurricanes were unable to dial up the finishing despite playing well and generating chances early. The possibility of it just not being the Canes night finally seemed possible early. But the Canes then exploded for three goals in the second period and road them to a 4-1 win.
Notes from the win follow
1) A better finish
The biggest positive for me was the way the Hurricanes finished. In previous wins, the Hurricanes seemed to shut things down a bit early and over-rely on Andersen to close out the win. The Leafs did garner some chances when things opened up in the third period, but the Hurricanes also pushed late and could have tacked on a couple goals except for some great saves by Campbell. If I wanted to nitpick, a bit more shut (not just from Andersen) would be ideal, but I thought this game was a step in the right direction in terms of finishing strong.
2) Steven Lorentz and the fourth line
Steven Lorentz’s individual effort to win a one-on-one puck battle and convert it to a a tie-breaking (and ultimately game-winning) goal was a tremendous individual effort and just reward for the fourth line. The fourth line has generally been competitive but also a bit light on scoring. Lorentz’s goal got them on the board and Stepan and Martinook also had good chances early.
3) Scoring balance
With Niederreiter’s goal on Monday, the Hurricanes now have six forwards with at least two goals through five games. That is a pace for 33 goals in 82 games. Further, the scoring is spread throughout the lineup with two of those players on the third line which has been the team’s most consistent. Being three lines deep scoring-wise is important for winning against similarly deep teams in the playoffs, especially on the road.
4) Frederik Andersen
He was actually tested a little bit less than a couple of the other wins but still saw enough tough chances and was solid. With a back-to-back on Thursday and Friday, Antti Raanta figures to finally draw into the 2021-22 season. Here is hoping that he too can hit the ground running with his new team.
5) Trying to get going
For as much as it seems like the team is firing on all cylinders offensively, young wings Martin Necas and Jesperi Kotkaniemi are both sputtering a bit. Both have had extended stretches in recent games when they look lost. It feels like Necas is maybe just needing a goal or two to start the engine. He has had some decent chances off the rush. Sometimes it makes sense to put players in favorable situations to get them going, but with both players playing in the top six with line mates who are scoring, mostly the team just needs to play a waiting game which is easier to do when the team is winning.
Next up for the Hurricanes is a back-to-back home set against the Bruins on Thursday and then the Blackhawks on Friday.
Another fun game to watch.
Great to see Lawrence and the 4th line come to life, just as I suggested they might need a shake up.
A team that can roll 4 productive lines is a team that can go far.
Freddie stood on his head again, especially in the third period, with an average .9 save percentage the record would likely be more in the 4/1 or 3/2 neighborhood, not bad but not a perfect 5 and 0.
Still a lot of turnovers and D zone issues, but against a desperate team with some of the top scorers in the league, (at least on paper), it’s to be expected.
But the sloppiness will cost us a few games down the line. Freddie can’t stay this good for the whole season and we have yet to see what our new backup goalie can do.
But, hey, 5 and 0 is a far better start than I expected.
It’s true we don’t have much direct scoring from the D but we do have a lot of assists and deflection goals, Bear and Slaven did the honors yesterday.
For most players 10 games is the minimum needed to gauge how their season is progressing. For Kotkaniemi, the number is closer to 25.
He is in an entirely different environment; teammates, position played, coaching styles and systems. Being invisible isn’t bad for KK early this season, it’s good. He is fitting in, learning new rolls, without pressing and making glaring errors. We need to give him a lot of tincture of time to get to his best performance as a Cane.