Rod Brind’Amour may have gotten his Uber Eats delivered to Toronto, but it also looked like the team was in another country last night. The Carolina Hurricanes fell to the basement-dwelling Detroit Red Wings.
I want to avoid hyperbole but after two games things are what they are. Losing to the Detroit Red Wings is terrible for your projected standings no matter when you take the loss. The Red Wings might be the last-place team in the division (Chicago could have something to say about that) and you have to take advantage of them every time you play them.
I have been going back and forth in my head about whether you want to play a good team or bad teams out of the gate with the main issue being if you are sloppy out of the gate against a bad team you have a worse effect in the log run. With Detroit you need to win every game, with a better team you expect to lose one or two games in the season.
Canes lose captain Jordan Staal
Jordan Staal was added to the COVID list Fridaay. Staal had been playing on the second line with Martin Necas and Andrei Svechnikov. Morgan Geekie was elevated from the practice squad to the active roster after Staal was ruled out.
While Brind’Amour praised Geekie before the game and liked that he knew what he had in the forward, it is still a significant drop off from your captain to a guy playing in his third regular-season NHL game. Center Vincent Trocheck was elevated from the third line to the second line to fill in for Staal with Geekie playing on the third line with Warren Foegele and Jesper Fast.
The Canes felt his loss the most in the faceoff circle. In the first game, he took the essential draws, including the opening duels each period. With Staal three nights ago the Canes won 60% of their draws; last night they won just 47%.
Aho Slow out of the Gates
Again, I do not want any hyperbole while breaking down the second game of the season. With that being said, the Canes need to get Sebastian Aho going. He is a very streaky player, but once he gets his first we have seen him off to the races in the last two seasons. The Canes really need to see him net his first sooner rather than later.
The top line of Nino Niederreiter, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravaineen has looked good in the first two tames, but we are still waiting on Aho’s first goal. He has the best hands on the team but is also known for being the most streaky player on the team.
We know that when it comes to Aho he is a streaky goal scorer. He will go a long period of time before he scores, but when he does they come in bunches. In the last two seasons, his longest scoring droughts came before he scored his first goal. That is exactly what is happening now. The Canes really need to get him going as early as possible because once he is on, there is no stopping him.
Petr Mrazek, It’s Not Your Fault
Letting up three goals on 20 shots isn’t anything to write home about. When you look at Mrazek’s play, however, the score could have been worse. He did stop multiple breakaway attempts and helped the Canes remain perfect on the penalty kill.
When you look at the goals, two of them were high-danger chances. In both cases, the puck carrier was able to dish from below the goal line to a teammate who one-timed it into the net. A behind the goal-line pass is dangerous because like a cross-slot pass, it causes a goalie to completely change their field of vision and re-position completely from where they were.
Again there is no reason to abandon ship after just two games. The Canes still have all the talent to get the job done in the long term, they just need to get used to NHL game speed. The top line still was able to drive possession and really dominate when they were on the ice.
In both games they had chances that they failed to convert. With times and getting more comfortable on the ice we will see more of these converted. The Canes remain on the road for their next two games against the Nashville Predators in back-to-back games on Monday and Tuesday. Lets just think of this stretch as a “virtual state fair road trip” and reflect that the Canes opening the season on the road means that nature really is healing.