For the first time all season, last night the Carolina Hurricanes won a game in which they did not trail at any point. The first period against the Florida Panthers was the best overall period of hockey the Canes have played this season and the results reflected it as they quickly jumped out to a 4-0 lead. From that point forward James Reimer stayed resilient and the Hurricanes are now 4-0-0 for the first time since the move and the second time in franchise history thanks to their 6-3 victory over the Panthers.
The Good - James Reimer
Returning to Florida for the first time since he was traded to Carolina, James Reimer was bound to be emotional. He struggled mightily in his time with the Panthers, but to be fair he played with some bad defenses and never could catch a break. To put in to perspective how poorly things were going for Reimer last year with the Panthers, before his start on Saturday against the Capitals he had not completed a 60-minute game since early February.
While his first period versus Washington wasn’t his best, he settled down and went in to lockdown mode from there, allowing his team to come back and win in overtime.
Fast forward to last night and Reimer was just as good if not better than he was on Saturday. Once the Canes roared out to a 5-0 lead, the guys in front of Reimer got complacent. The defense became sloppy and there were a multitude of power plays for the Panthers. But through it all Reimer stood tall, facing 50 shots and stopping 47 of them.
Welcome to the James Reimer show. pic.twitter.com/iulzJlTWKw— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) October 9, 2019
There were many questions as to whether Reimer would even make the opening night roster this season and, once he did, whether the Canes had made the right choice in picking him over Anton Forsberg. Through two games, Reimer has more proved his worth. While he and Petr Mrazek both have two wins, Reimer has looked more confident and been able to make more big saves than Mrazek, which means we could be seeing a 1A/1B goaltending situation once again unless one of these guys takes full control of the starter’s crease. It worked well last year, so why not try it again?
The Bad - Penalty Trouble
For as great as the first four games of the season have been for the Hurricanes, one common thing has been a major issue - the penalties. Through four games the Canes have the sixth most minor penalties in the league, which has resulted in the penalty killers being overworked. The issues really arose starting in the Capitals game when they gave Washington six power play chances, and has continued since then with four for the Lightning and six more for the Panthers.
No one player is standing out as having taken more penalties than others, as eleven different players have taken a minor penalty and only three of those have made two trips to the box. But that may be more concerning than one single player taking a bunch of penalties like Andrei Svechnikov did last season because at least with that you can isolate said player and work with him to correct his issues. This is a total team issue and something Rod Brind’Amour is surely not happy about.
The penalties were the sole reason that the Panthers were able to climb back in to the game last night ,as they scored two power play goals in the third period to make it a 5-3 game. It was an amazing feat to keep the Capitals off the score sheet on the power play, but otherwise the Canes have given up a power play goal in every other game and that is a long term recipe for disaster. This team-wide issue is something that Brind’Amour and the coaching staff must figure out soon. It will begin to cost the Hurricanes games if it is not rectified.
The Great - Hot Start
For the first time since relocating to Raleigh, the Hurricanes are off to a 4-0-0 start. That’s a remarkable feat — and they finally got a victory without needing extra hockey, which is an improvement over their first three contests. The NHL has been put on notice by the Canes’ start and they have done it all without Sebastian Aho contributing anything more than an empty net goal. Once he and Svechnikov get going, this team can be one of the best in the entire league.
Last night was quite different than the other three wins as the Hurricanes came out and took control early. Scoring four goals in the first and killing a very long 5-on-3 penalty, Carolina had all the momentum in their favor.
The overall most impressive goal of the six from a team standpoint was the Hamilton tally. Svechnikov skated in on a breakaway but was shut down by Sergei Bobrovsky. Svechnikov had the wherewithal to gather the rebound and in one spinning motion pass the puck across ice to Hamilton who didn’t miss. The impressive part of this goal isn’t the finish, it’s the setup by Svechnikov.
Don't think too much. Just shoot it. pic.twitter.com/nuCQBx8bo6— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) October 8, 2019
Despite not having a goal yet, Svechnikov leads the team — and is tied for the league lead — with six assists, and his passing is noticeably better than last season. Many figured he would elevate his scoring game, but most thought it would be with over 30 goals, not with his play-making. The dynamic young Russian will light the lamp numerous times this year, but the assists show he’s developing as a team player and once Aho gets going the two of them could be up there near the top of the league as a one-two punch.
We have officially entered uncharted territory for the Carolina Hurricanes with their 4-0-0 start and they are only going to improve from here. Once Brind’Amour gets the penalty issues leveled out and Aho starts producing points, this dangerous team will become deadly. They have proven they can play with, and beat, the best in the league with their victories over the Capitals and Lightning and now they have proven they can win in different ways as well.
Reimer has been fantastic in his two appearances and for now any goaltending worries seem to have been put to rest. With the Islanders and Blue Jackets coming to Raleigh over the weekened, it’s conceivable to see a scenario where the Canes head out West at 6-0-0. After that, only 76 more to go!