Game Analysis: Flyers At Hurricanes

Grant Halverson

Radek Dvorak scored for the second time in as many games as a member of the Hurricanes as Carolina gave Anton Khudobin his first win for the team with a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Carolina Hurricanes earned three out of four points in its season-opening set at home, topping the Flyers, 2-1, to earn win No. 1 for the 2013-14 season. Jay Harrison and Radek Dvorak scored, and Anton Khudobin stopped 17 of 18 shots in his Canes debut.

Three Observations

1. Peter Laviolette was ousted as the Flyers coach Monday morning, less than a day after the Canes sent Philadelphia to 0-3 on the season. While being fired three games into a season is unprecedented and pretty nonsensical, Laviolette has been known to burn brightly then fizzle out behind the bench. Laviolette took Philadelphia to the Cup Finals in 2010, but just 123 regular season games later he's out behind the Flyers bench. Things weren't much different in Carolina: Laviolette was ousted Dec. 3, 2008, just 189 games after he hoisted the Stanley Cup on the then-RBC Center ice.

2. Coach Kirk Muller will have some difficult decisions to make once Tim Gleason and Tuomo Ruutu are healthy. Carolina’s weakest forward line has been its top one — Eric Staal, Alexander Semin and Jiri Tlusty have a combined eight shots (none by Semin) and no points through two games — but none of those players will find themselves out of the lineup. Jordan Staal’s line hasn't produced offensively, but has been a big part of stopping the opposition’s attack through two games, while the third and fourth lines have consistently brought energy and seem to be developing great chemistry. On defense, Brett Bellemore and Ryan Murphy have established themselves in the top-six, while Andrej Sekera and Justin Faulk have been a defensive force as the top pairing. That leaves Jay Harrison — who scored Sunday and is a proven tutor of young defensemen — and Ron Hainsey as the current likely candidates for benching upon Gleason’s return. If the decision had to be made today, it’s likely Hainsey who is the odd-man out.

3. Rookie Elias Lindholm showed Sunday why Carolina took him fifth overall this past June. There hasn't been a ton of dazzle to Lindholm’s game thus far, but there's no denying the tempo and energy the with which 18-year-old plays the game. To stay in the lineup — and with the team this year — Lindholm needs to be, first and foremost, defensively responsible. So far he's done that. And while he's been held without a point or even a shot in a little less than 17 minutes of NHL ice time, there have been glimpses of his playmaking ability and smarts on the ice. Is Lindholm the next Daniel Alfredsson or Peter Forsberg? Those are generational players, so probably not. But so far he’s showing, at 18, that he belongs with the best players in the world.

Number To Know

50 — shooting percentage for Dvorak through two games. The training camp invitee earned a contract from Carolina and has rewarded the team for its faith in him by scoring in both games. The 36-year-old winger has found chemistry with Jeff Skinner and Riley Nash on Carolina’s third line and has converted half his chances, including scoring the game winner Sunday.

Plus

Brett Bellemore — The rookie blueliner had a team-high three blocked shots and spent most of the game — along with partner Hainsey — matched up against Philadelphia’s most talented and dangerous line of Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek. The result was that line registered only four shots the entire night — and only two against the Bellmore-Hainsey combination.

Minus

Drayson Bowman — On a night when the Canes looked rock solid, Bowman had the one sequence of mistakes that cost them a goal. First, Bowman iced the puck attempting a long outlet pass. That led to a fourth-line matchup in the defensive zone, with Kris Newbury winning the faceoff back to defenseman Luke Schenn and Bowman over-committing in coming out to the point. That allowed Schenn the time and space to make a perfect shot to beat Khudobin and tie the the game. The good news? Bowman’s energy played a big part in swinging momentum back Carolina’s way later in the period, helping lead to Dvorak’s eventual game-winning goal.

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