Entering with a three-game losing streak, Monday’s game in Detroit was as close to ‘must win’ as you can get in October. Couple the need with a beatable opponent who entered near the bottom of the standings, and Monday’s felt like the kind of game where the Canes needed to push and seize a win – the kind of win that has been elusive in recent years. And the Hurricanes produced, fueled by of all things the power play.
The game featured an early surge that was part of most of the other early season wins. The Hurricanes dominated early and notched 14 shots on net before the Red Wings tallied their first nearly 14 minutes into the game. But early on the Hurricanes had nothing to show for it and as the first period wore on, it started to feel like more of the same. But the Hurricanes finally made good on the power play when Justin Faulk scored on a laser from the point to stake the Hurricanes to a 1-0 lead near the end of the first period.
The second period was mostly more of the same. The Hurricanes resumed firing shots at the net and generally dictating play. And also like the first period, the Hurricanes capitalized on a power play opportunity when a nifty passing play saw Sebastian Aho feed Valentin Zykov in Elias Lindholm’s old office at the side of the net. Zykov feathered a perfect pass into the the wheel house of Micheal Ferland who made no mistake finishing to make it 2-0.
Detroit finally pushed back in the third period partly courtesy of a couple power play opportunities. The first Detroit power play went by the wayside but seemed to energize the Wings. A bit later, they scored on a mini-rush in close to tighten things up at 2-1. Next Detroit mounted a furious rush on the power play. Their best sequence saw Mrazek make a good save but then end up sprawled out wide of the net while the Wings fired away. The first follow up seemed to hit Faulk defending the empty net and a second shot still with an open net other than Faulk and de Haan somehow found its way under Mrazek. When the Hurricanes inexplicably survived that flurry, a win seemed inevitable. The team still had to kill off a Dougie Hamilton delay of game penalty for the last 1:44 to hold on to win. Slavin made yet another tremendous individual play to win and then carry the puck out before finding Jordan Martinook for the empty-netter to seal the win.
Player and other notes
The power play arrives!
After belaboring all of the grim details from the Canes special teams struggles in this morning’s Daily Cup of Joe, I will take full credit for prompting Monday’s power play outbreak that led the way to the win. On a more serious note, two things jump out to me about the power play goals. First, Ferland’s goal came after the Canes managed to play the puck to the end line (Elias Lindholm’s old office) back to a prime scoring spot. The goal has almost no chance on this shot if the shooter picks a corner. Second, Faulk was able to receive and shoot with the pass coming into his wheel house vertically. This is exactly how many of his power play goals came a couple years back with him receiving similar passes off the wall and right into his sweet spot. The umbrella formation tends to require receiving passes horizontally which at least for Faulk just is not as effective for wiring shots on net. Regardless, per my article this morning, something has to give if the team is to keep winning.
The return to Brind’Amour hockey
While the power play break through may claim the headlines, the real story was another round of the Hurricanes puck-hounding style of play just making it impossible for the opponent to do anything. This game felt very much like the win against the Minnesota Wild. A couple power play goals for the Wild made the score odd, but behind the special teams that game was another dominant effort by the Hurricanes forward group from top to bottom.
Bishop was not so much bad as very quiet in his first NHL game on Saturday. And the line that he centers has generally been too quiet all year. But early in Monday’s game, I thought the trio was the team’s best when it was setting the tone early. McGinn drew a penalty. The line did a nice job winning and playing the puck on the boards. And twice they got the puck to the crease with bodies there at the same time. They were not rewarded on the scoreboard (Zykov’s assist was on the power play), but signs of life from this line was a positive.
He continues to be one of the best stories below the star level early in the 2018-19 season. His power play tally makes four straight games with a goal, and he continues to show a bigger bag of offensive tools than I anticipated when he was acquired. He brings the Erik Cole power forward game regularly with and without the puck, but his receive/finish ability has been eye-catching too. Monday’s goal was a nifty finish where he received and quickly labeled a shot where the goalie had little chance.
The story of the game and the driver of the win was the Hurricanes return to shot and possession dominance. But Mrazek also deserves high marks for doing very well with the work presented to him. After facing literally zero shots for 13 minutes, he was sharp making a couple quality saves in succession when Detroit finally put the puck on net. The same was true throughout, as Mrazek faced a light volume but was sharp when asked.
Sebastian Aho for 9!
With his power play assist, he is now at nine straight games with a point to start the season. With Ferland fitting in and surging and Aho out of the gate fast, at least so far the Hurricanes have a top scoring line for the first time in years.
Foegele has been decent even in his and the team’s down games. He consistently engages the puck whenever given the chance game in and game out. But he had been a bit quieter in the recent losses. I thought he found a higher gear of just doing what he does and was again a leader in the team’s ‘hound the puck at all costs’ successful formula on Monday night.
Other than the splendid offensive move and shot that clanged off the post and the individual clear that led to the empty-netter, Jaccob Slavin had a fairly pedestrian Jaccob Slavin game. And that is what is so good about his play so far. He is just steady and solid on a nightly basis.
Next up for the team is another set of three days off at home for practice before a three-game home stand starts with a Friday match up against the San Jose Sharks.
Great team win. Mrazek made timely saves. Slavin was excellent in his game. Ferland continues beast mode. Foegele looked like Foegele. Faulk gave all he had to stop a late goal. Aho showed why he is a star by stepping in on the pk. Oh yeah the team scored three special team goals tonight and gave up zero.
Maybe this RBA guy knows what he is doing by sticking by his team when they faltered. Great win for the Canes!
I love talking details about the team with all of you. All the complaints about the PP were deserved, but we all need to realize we are fans. The coaches all know more about the details than we do.
The PP was way more confident tonight. Even the first PP had the puck and the players moving all around the zone. Brind’Amour isn’t some rum-dum. Maybe practice didn’t impress some, but the results impressed me. That was a different PP tonight.
After dominating for two periods the Canes were holding on in the third. Loved the effort of the D though. Faulk playing goalie and Slavin just doing Slavin things and using his hands and feet to finish the game.
Brock McGinn was a horse tonight. He was not to be denied in this game. No, he didn’t score, but he owned the puck when it was his to be had. That’s the guy the Canes need.
Mrazek put together his second straight good game. Looking forward to getting Darling back, but Mrazek is putting in a late claim on the position. It will be interesting to see how he does against a loaded Sharks team on Friday.
There was a nice adjustment on the PP when Turbo was moved off one unit in lieu of Zykov, Ferland, Williams, Aho, and Faulk. I initially scratched my head on it – with two net front players plus Williams with Aho away on the point. But that was the type of adjustment that worked – Forslund/Tracy called it “layers” in front of the goalie and it is what I described today or yesterday as having been missing – net front presence keeping the goalie’s eyes off the puck when it was being moved. A great outside bomb from Faulk, then that nifty tic-tac-toe from Aho moving in from the point to Zykov in close to Ferland in the slot.
A+ for that change.
I couldn’t tell what – if anything – was different on the PK this evening.
But on 5×5 everybody came to play – even McGinn started to look like his old self.
And, Matt, for the record I have been talking about Ferland’s ability to finish since the day we got him – his play in all it’s facets has been no surprise to me. He learned his trade last season with Gaudreau and Monahan, and he is exactly what the doctor ordered for Aho – Aho and Ferland have been developing incredible chemistry – almost to the point, I think where when Necas returns Turbo might be a good choice for his right wing. They were pretty good together for a game or two in preseason. But I digress into the role of “couch coach”.
It’s good to see Zykov playing with confidence now, and Svech is playing a very strong game – goals are not far away for him.
Interestingly, with the exception of Staal on the high side and Clark on the low side, forward time was reasonably well balanced.
The negatives were the breakdowns in the offensive zone which led to odd-man rushes, including the 2-on-1 that led to the Wings’ goal.
Agree about the switch from Teravainen to Williams. Seemed to make a difference in puck movement. Wasn’t Staal often in the high slot with Zykov recently as well? Frankly, I’m not confident that Staal would have finished that nice pass from Zykov. Ferland does seem to have that finishing touch around the net the Canes have lacked in well….forever? I hope he can maintain that level of performance for the whole season.
I’m not so sure about TT with Necas. They did look good together in an early preseason game when there was a ton of room on the ice, but in a later game when the checking pressure was turned up they did not. Both are really soft on the boards.
Also agree about Svechnikov. He is creating a bunch of quality chances for himself and teammates. At some point he is going to bust out.
Good win against a bottom team. The Canes were obviously better throughout the lineup. I agree with Matt that McGinn/Bishop/Zykov had a strong game. All four lines showed well last night. Svechnikov is on the verge of breaking out.
Any talk of separating Aho and Teravainen (I thought it made sense in the preseason, but not now) is folly. Ferland has added offense. But he is not strong defensively–Teravainen is superior defending. TT is a much better playmaker who often gets the puck to Aho in ideal situations (either as Aho is about to reach top speed or in a spot where the defense has to make a quick decision, which if the D chooses poorly gives Aho the opportunity to exploit the mistake). Again, I would remind people of all the handwringing about moving Aho to center during the preseason. Until TT was on his wing, Aho was not a 1C. That is not a coincidence. Aho’s is a great player who would have become a top center, but his ability to do that from game 1 is partially due to Teravainen. Don’t get me wrong, Ferland has been excellent. But Jordan Staal produced more with Aho/TT, as did Zykov, as did Foegele in the preseason, and of course that international superstar Veli-Matti Savinainen was a point-per-game player in the most recent World Championships as the third player on a line with Aho and Teravainen.
Back to last night. The Canes won with the power play and penalty kill finally working. But they didn’t score 5-on-5 despite dominating play. Carolina is producing historic shot numbers. Maybe the team actually needs to work on passing. Think about it, Aho is actually one of the only players (TT and Williams are also obviously in this category) who is not displaying a shoot-first style. That is likely the reason he has a point streak.
I do think changing up the lines might work. Matt was concerned about Foegele being able to keep up with the defensive zone responsibilities on Staal’s line. So far he has been up to the task. I would like to see Svechnikov as the RW with Staal and Foegele. Williams is playing well, but there are occasions where it is apparent he isn’t quite as fast anymore. While Svechnikov has taken too many penalties, Williams has taken only one less. So I think the potential for getting Svechnikov more scoring chances is worth experimenting. Also, because Williams is an excellent passer he could be used to provide offensive upside for another line. Something like this is worth a look:
The lines with two rookies both have veteran leadership. The Bishop line would be both fast and physical to provide some defensive support to Staal’s line. The Wallmark line could take mostly offensive zone draws as all three players are quite good at keeping pucks down low in the offensive zone.
I realize the team is actually exceeding expectations. But the reality is that they aren’t scoring the past four games.
There is no doubt that Aho is the player that makes others better. I do not suggest moving Teravainen at this point. He has a long history of being productive with Aho. But, Teravainen has not played up to his own standards so far this season. After the first couple games he has been fine on defense, but seems to be floating on offense. Trying to avoid contact? I don’t know, but he isn’t playing as Matt calls it “Brind’Amour Hockey.”
I also believe it was as much a coincidence that Aho’s game got going when reunited with Teravainen in camp. He needed a few games to get back in the groove. Yes, Aho is best with a heady player that sees the ice well like Teravainen, but the Canes do have other players like that. Players like Ferland are harder to find.
I wouldn’t change any of the lines at this point. Scoring comes and goes throughout the season. The Canes don’t have scoring talent like Toronto, so they will need to keep working on tightening it up on defense and avoid the big breakdowns that have plagued them in the past and so far this season.
Also hoping that Mzarek has hit his stride and will continue to play like he has the past couple nights.
I’m glad I trusted my friends (full-time Flames fan) scouting report on Ferland. Everyone’s impression of him including myself was that he was physical and a net front guy but lacking offensive touch. But my friend did say the guy was a low-key sniper. I’m sorry but Jordan Staal should never be in that middle-slot position in the powerplay again when we have guys like Ferland and Aho who can bang 1 timers way better than Staal can.
My friend is still telling us to prepare for the aspect of Ferland that makes him a bottom 6 winger – the fact he’s inconsistent. So far we’ve seen the ‘elite’ Ferland and it’s working out great but I think it’d be crazy to think he’d sustain this. In fact if he was to now finish an 82 game season with around 35-45 pts the drop-off in his production rate the rest of the season might be disappointing. Here’s to hoping that doesn’t happen.