It was a Happy Halloween indeed for Canes’ fans Sunday afternoon in PNC Arena, as Carolina grinded out a hard-fought 2-1 win over the winless Arizona Coyotes to move to 8-0-0 on the season.
Martin Necas and Brett Pesce had the tallies for the Hurricanes, the first of the year for both players.
Here are some takeaways from Sunday afternoon’s matinee win:
The Sunday Not So Scaries
A 7-0-0 team playing an 0-7-1 team at home for a Halloween Sunday matinee had some ~spooky~ vibes, but the Canes once again handled their business when it mattered.
At times, it looked like there was maybe going to be a letdown for the Canes on home ice, as the Coyotes led for a good chunk of the game thanks in big part to a strong effort from Karel Vejmelka in net and some fortunate bounces.
But the Canes broke through in the second to tie the game on Martin Necas’ first of the year, and then finally found a power play tally on its fifth try of the game in the third period as Brett Pesce blasted in the game winner.
“It was a tough game,” said head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “Going into it, it was that we were going to have to grind and they played hard. That was clearly evident right from the start. We stuck with it. I was proud of our group because it could have easily been a really frustrating game to have so many close ones and not connect.”
There’s a reason the Canes are 8-0-0, and it isn’t because they have completely dominated every single game they’ve stepped on the ice to play. Sunday Carolina looked strong but snakebitten for a lot of the game, and it found a way to stick with it and get the chances. In other games, the Canes have survived some uglier play and made the most of their opportunities.
There’s a lot of ways to win in the National Hockey League, and the 2021-22 Carolina Hurricanes have already shown quite a few. Sunday afternoon in Raleigh, the Canes persevered to get the two points against a lowly, but chippy Arizona Coyotes’ squad.
The Forward Depth Has Been Impressive
Credit where it is due to commenter and community member Squeaky83 for bringing this stat to my attention, but with Necas’ first goal of the season in the second period Sunday all 12 starting forwards (Nino Niederreiter included, Seth Jarvis not) have scored a goal.
That’s a fairly impressive feat through just eight games of a season. To put it into perspective, the Coyotes have scored just 13 goals this season, while the Canes have gotten at least one goal from 12 different forwards.
That depth is something that can separate the Hurricanes, and obviously has so far this season. Great teams need to have great top lines, and the Canes do with whatever combination of Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, Andrei Svechnikov and Jesperi Kotkaniemi it throws out there, having a bruising third and fourth line can also be as important.
The Hurricanes’ third line of Jordan Staal, Jesper Fast and Niederreiter (the last of which is injured now) had been as daunting a third-line challenge as you can find, and the Derek Stepan led fourth line with Jordan Martinook and Steven Lorentz had also been productive at times.
Things got shuffled around quite a bit Sunday with the addition of Jarvis and subtraction of Niederreiter, but the depth was still on display in that game as well. Of the six line combinations that played more than three minutes together, only one had a CF% lower than 60, and that was Teravainen, Aho and Kotkaniemi.
Welcome to the NHL, Seth Jarvis
It’s always fun to see guys make their NHL debuts, but it’s especially fun for fans when it’s a highly touted prospect who’s debut has been anticipated.
Sunday in PNC Arena, it was finally that time for Jarvis, who played a really strong game on the ice in his first taste of NHL action. Jarvis finished the game with an assist, a secondary dish on Pesce’s game winner, but also had a couple other even better chances that didn’t get the right bounce.
“He doesn’t look much like a rookie to me,” Brind’Amour said. “He was great. First game with no nerves at all. I think that’s what makes him special. He’s out there at the end, on the power play and in big, huge moments making plays. It was a great game for him, especially for a first one.”
Jarvis has been garnering the respect of Brind’Amour and his teammates throughout camp, and his debut has been hotly anticipated by a lot of Carolina fans. There’s a decent chance Jarvis was going to play Sunday anyway, but his first game got accelerated by the injury to Niederreiter.
And Jarvis showed Sunday that he may be someone the Canes can keep around for a little bit while Niederreiter is sidelined. Jarvis can be with Carolina for a nine-game trial, which would take him up to Nov. 20. Whether Niederreiter is healthy by then or not isn’t known, but it’s a start.
Jarvis looked good Sunday in his NHL debut, which is always a good sign.
“The first shift I was like ‘holy crap, I’m in the NHL,’” Jarvis said. “After that, I calmed my emotions and it was just another hockey game.”