Carolina iced a tweener group of mostly depth players and AHL-bound guys. Nashville opted for a veteran-heavy lineup, and that is likely what made the biggest difference in the finale.
The real thing starts on Thursday against the New York Islanders, but before we get to that, here are three takeaways from Carolina’s loss in Smashville.
Good Vibes, Poor Execution
The Hurricanes and Predators brought a lot of energy to the ice on Saturday. Lots of aggression and physicality from both sides gave the game the feel of a regular-season tilt.
The tempo was great, and that’s a good sign for the Canes with opening night right around the corner.
The execution, on the other hand, was a bit of a mess.
Carolina was plagued by turnovers and a lack of finishing touch throughout the game, and those mistakes directly led to several Nashville goals and hung Frederik Andersen out to dry in the process.
The Canes came up just short with their decision-making and reads, and with a pretty inexperienced lineup, that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Nashville had many of their top players on the ice, and when they got their opportunities to score, they took advantage.
Not all of the mistakes were by AHL guys, though. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Ethan Bear, and other NHL regulars made glaring mistakes that led to the club’s demise.
For some of those guys, this is part of the learning process on a new team, but the Hurricanes need them to be on the same page and fully comfortable for opening night. They will be relied upon as key contributors.
Final Tune-up for Andersen
Andersen’s second and final preseason start was a weird one and a bit of a mixed bag.
Carolina’s opening night starter saw just three shots on goal in the first period, but one of them was a high-danger shot that he made a big glove save on. Things rapidly picked up in the middle frame, though.
The first shot of the second period came from Roman Josi, and he beat Andersen on a beautiful shot that was partially screened by Ethan Bear. Tough to get mad at the goalie for that one.
Less than five minutes later, Yakov Trenin got behind the Hurricanes’ skaters during a bad line change and he managed to slide the puck through Andersen’s legs on a long breakaway. Then, less than 90 seconds later, Filip Forsberg blocked Bear’s point shot and turned it right back up the ice for a goal on the rush.
Those were some tough breaks for Andersen, especially after he was practically able to nap through the first period.
It was definitely a different feel from his other preseason start, wherein he saw 37 shots and was outstanding. He only saw 17 shots on Saturday, and despite allowing four goals, the raw numbers are probably a little misleading with regards to how he played.
Outside of that barrage in the second period, he looked fine.
It’s About to Get Real
The Hurricanes dropped three of their four preseason games, but a lot of work was done along the way.
Some big decisions are now on the horizon with regards to who will make the opening night roster. Young players like Seth Jarvis and Jack Drury turned in strong training camps, but will it be enough to get them on the NHL roster?
Jarvis is the big name here. If he doesn’t make the team, he will have to go back to the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. Rod Brind’Amour and company have spoken highly of his play to this point and it certainly seems like he is a real contender to crack the final roster.
If he makes the team, he can play in upwards of nine NHL games before instigating the first year of his entry-level contract. The team could keep him around with the team and see what he can bring prior to making their final decision. There aren’t any real downsides to it.
Other big roster decisions include the forward and defensive combinations at even strength. There’s an array of options for the Hurricanes up and down their lineup.
The exhibition schedule is officially over. The show starts on Thursday.