After Tuesday night’s 3-2 overtime loss against the Nashville Predators at PNC Arena, the Hurricanes have just one more dress rehearsal before the games start for real in the 2021-22 season.
With the usual caveat that anything that happened in a preseason game should be taken with a grain of salt, there’s a few interesting observations to take from Tuesday night’s game, let’s get to them:
1. Seth Jarvis forcing a tough decision - The Hurricanes are going to have a hell of a choice in whether or not to keep top prospect Seth Jarvis with the big club or send him back to juniors. Even coming into camp off a great showing in the prospects showcase, he was going to need to completely blow the doors off to have a shot at making the team given the Hurricanes’ forward depth.
Two preseason games in, he’s doing his best to do exactly that. Jarvis again didn’t look out of place Tuesday night, this time playing in a game that featured mostly NHL lineups on both sides. He finished with two shots on goal and used his speed and creativity to generate numerous scoring chances. He also once again played bigger than his size, engaging in board battles down low and creating some havoc in front of the net.
2. Strong night for Lorentz and Fast - One area of improvement the Hurricanes are hoping for is more scoring from their bottom-six forwards this season, and two players who figure to play in that grouping showed some promise in that regard Tuesday night.
The forward line of Jesper Fast, Steven Lorentz and C.J. Smith came up with both of the Canes’ regulation goals, from Lorentz and Fast.
In the first period, the trio crashed the net and Lorentz popped home a rebound. With about six minutes left in the third period and the Hurricanes trailing 2-1, Fast took a stretch pass from Ian Cole down the wing and blasted a shot past Saros to knot things up.
Offensive confidence for your bottom six is always a good thing, and Lorentz and Fast should both feel good about their games after Tuesday night.
3. First look at new D corps - Other than between the pipes, the Hurricanes’ blue line saw the most changes in a busy offseason, with as many as four new faces expected to be on the opening night roster in Brendan Smith (the likely extra), Tony DeAngelo, Cole and Ethan Bear. Tuesday night was the first look we got at the expected starting six, with DeAngelo paired with Jaccob Slavin, Cole with Bear and Brady Skjei and Brett Pesce reuniting.
It wasn’t perfect, with a few turnovers and breakdowns (the Predators’ goal 27 seconds into the game was a shift to forget for Skjei and Pesce in particular), but for the most part the new group played well against a veteran-heavy Predators lineup, not forcing Antti Raanta to make many high-quality saves.
Cole and Bear were impressive at both ends of the ice, with Bear generating five shots and getting pucks through from the point consistently, and Cole hitting Fast with the aforementioned stretch pass on the game-tying goal.
There could yet be some growing pains for the new D corps to start the season, but Tuesday was an encouraging start.