A night after Andrei Svechnikov provided a glimpse of what might await the Carolina Hurricanes in the regular season, Martin Necas showed that the hoped-for production from the Canes’ rookie duo might not be a pipe dream after all.
Necas was one of six players to light the lamp for Carolina, who saw 12 players on the scoresheet led by three-point nights from Janne Kuokkanen (one goal, two assists) and Justin Williams (three assists) in a 6-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning to sweep the two-game preseason home and home series.
Despite an atmosphere that at times rivaled one that would be more at home in the nearby North Carolina Museum of Art, an announced crowd of just over 6,000 were given a show by the home squad. Carolina went 3-for-6 on the power play, and outshot the Lightning 34-27 as the skating that coach Rod Brind’Amour had implemented in the early days of training camp seemed to pay off. The Hurricanes had noticeably fresher legs as the game wore on, and five of their six goals came in the final 23 minutes of the game.
Among the goal scorers were new acquisition Dougie Hamilton, who cleaned up his own rebound with three minutes to go in the second period to put the Canes up 2-0 at the time, and fellow former Calgary Flame Micheal Ferland, who converted on a power play tap-in midway through the third period. Scott Darling played the first 30 minutes, as was expected, and stopped all 16 shots he saw. He was relieved by Callum Booth, who allowed one goal on 11 shots.
They Said It
We started slow and the game was not very good, to put it bluntly. Then there was a point where we had the 5-on-3, and if we score there it’s a different game. Some big efforts killing the penalties, and it got us moving in the right direction.
Other than the one almost mishap, [Darling] looked like he was in control. That’s great. That’s what we expect. It was a good start for him.
I don’t think there’s a lot of pressure on [Necas]. I kind of view it the opposite: the pressure’s on us. I thought he looked like a young kid, but real talented. You can see when you give him time and space he’s going to make plays. I like what I see in him.
You want to set the tone, obviously; the wins are nice, but it’s the way you have to play. I wasn’t pumped about how the game was tonight. It wasn’t how I was expecting it to be, to be honest. I liked that we kept on it and we didn’t back down. They brought their grinders, no different than what we did last night.
We looked the ones that were tired at the start, but I think a lot of that was rust. They got their legs under them, and conditioning is going to be a huge thing. For the way we want to play, it’s paramount.
They were working hard. A lot of those bubble guys are giving everything they’ve got to make the team. They were good, but we picked it up and had a really good second half of the game.
I felt good, felt confident. My cardio was better, and overall I felt pretty sharp. It’s rare for me [not allowing a goal], so that’s a good feeling. The high-level skill we have up front and on D, lots of hits and not letting anyone off easy. It’s fun to watch.
There’s a lot of skill out there. It’s exciting. You can’t replicate a game in the summer; practice all you want, but it’s always different in the first game. You try to get used to everybody, and it was a little sloppy out there today, but it will get better as a preseason goes. As you get more comfortable it gets easier, but everyone [on D] can make plays on their own.
As a team we did well. We knew they had a younger lineup with hard working guys, so we thought maybe that would reverse today and we did a good job of matching their intensity. Preseason is important to get ready for the start of the season, and you want to be ready to go from the start.
I definitely noticed they were tiring in the third, but they came out hard and I thought Darls played good in the first and second. Both goalies were great and kind of kept us in it at the start, and it kind of rolled from there.
- It’s always hard to take anything from preseason games, but both Necas and Kuokkanen (who I would have to think is probably odds-on to make the team again out of camp) showed plenty of good to go with some defensive lapses. Saku Maenalanen did draw one penalty, but otherwise was little more than roster filler. I have to think he’s ticketed for Charlotte, and that final roster spot may well come down to Kuokkanen or Phil Di Giuseppe.
- One thing to keep in mind is that Kuokkanen doesn’t need to clear waivers to be sent down. Di Giuseppe does, and he may well be claimed if he goes on waivers, but that probably wouldn’t be a huge loss with players like Julien Gauthier (who played well tonight in limited minutes) and Maenalanen waiver-exempt and waiting in Charlotte to fill that spot.
- Darling’s one OMG moment was a misplay of a rolling puck that nearly snuck behind him, but he was solid if unspectacular. If reports from yesterday are accurate, Petr Mrazek probably showed a little better than Darling did in game action, but Darling was far from a lost cause and that’s more a statement on a strong game by Mrazek than anything else.
- I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Justin Faulk looks like a new man, both on the ice and in the locker room. If the Canes can get him back to even 75% of what he was three and four years ago, that’s going to be a really good pairing of him and Calvin de Haan. That might well be the Canes’ shutdown pairing, based on what we saw tonight.
- Josiah Didier suffered what Brind’Amour called a knee injury, and the coach seemed to indicate it may be a somewhat lengthy layoff. It could put his availability at Checkers camp, which begins Monday, into question.
- The Canes are back to practice tomorrow morning in advance of Friday’s visit from the Capitals.