Regular season hockey is back, and the Carolina Hurricanes are 1-0.
The Canes beat the Blue Jackets 4-1 Wednesday night in PNC Arena, as Carolina overcame a bit of a slow start to rattle of four unanswered goals to get the commanding win over Columbus.
Seth Jarvis tallied the first goal of the season for the Canes, while Martin Necas led the way to the victory with an impressive three-point night.
It was a really strong start to the season for the Hurricanes, who obviously have Stanley Cup aspirations that are as legitimate as anyone’s in the league.
Some thoughts from the season opener:
The Martin Necas revenge tour starts now
By all accounts, the 2021-22 season didn’t go exactly how people expected for Martin Necas. In the first full season of his NHL career thanks to COVID shortenings the two years prior, Necas saw his points per game fall from 0.77 in 2020-21 to just 0.51.
Necas never really seemed to find his full gear, and there were some serious doubts raising up in some corners of the Canes fandom.
But now in a new season, Necas is looking good early on. He had a great preseason for the Canes, and he started his regular season out with a three-point performance that lifted the Canes to a nice season-opening win.
He assisted Carolina’s second goal of the night and really made the play, carrying the puck into the dangerous area of the ice and showing off some great skill to setup Brady Skjei for the one-timer.
Then Necas scored the next goal, putting in some exceptional work on the forecheck before cashing in on a heavy rebound. It was another goal created by the work of Necas, and this time he was the one who rifled it home himself.
He assisted Carolina’s final goal as well, blasting a shot on target just after a power play expired. It created another heavy, heavy rebound, which made its way to Andrei Svechnikov on the boards for a tight-angle score.
A sample size of a few preseason games and one regular season game isn’t enough to proclaim Necas’ struggles of a year ago completely fixed, but it is enough to say he’s off to a really strong start and looks like he could be poised for a bounce back year.
Frederik Andersen looked strong in return from injury
Andersen played in his first meaningful game since suffering a knee injury towards the end of last regular season.
And in his first regular season action since then, he looked really good. Andersen made 31 saves on 32 shots against, though he did let in another that was ruled offside after a challenge.
Still, Andersen looked great on the ice Wednesday night. He moved well. He made some really exceptional, highlight-reel saves and he overall looked comfortable in the net. He stopped all six high-danger chances he faced, all 14 of the mid-danger shots he faced and allowed just four rebound chances all night.
Andersen was obviously a revelation for the Hurricanes before his injury in 2021-22, and it’s great to see him healthy and looking confident to open up a new campaign.
- Rod Brind’Amour and video coach Chris Huffine are 1 for 1 on challenges to start the year, and it took a goal off the board. Good work by that operation.
- Brett Pesce PP2 quarterback? Pesce took on that role that is certainly still open for competition Wednesday night. Neither power play scored, but neither looked awful. Sample size is obviously far too small, but that’s something to watch moving forward.
- The penalty kill appears to be a wagon once again. Blue Jackets had exactly one shot and one scoring chance during two full power plays.
- The jerseys are cool. I thought they were a little bit meh when they first released them, but it’s one of those things where they look great on the ice.
- The dasher board ad technology sucks. So much. It’s distracting and unsettling and overall a detriment to the TV viewing experience. Will we get used to it? Of course. That still doesn’t make it good. Two thumbs down.
- Playing as the Canes’ 2C, Jesperi Kotkaniemi won 69 percent of his faceoffs in game one of the season. Nice.
- The Canes have now won 11 straight games in the month of October, dating back to 2019. I also believe the Canes have not been under .500 for a single day of the regular season since December of 2018. This team, under Rod Brind’Amour, starts the season hot every year.