Despite quality play, Nashville sends the Carolina Hurricanes packing on a shutout
While the contest did not end in the fashion we had hoped, there were numerous standouts for the Carolina Hurricanes tonight. The Carolina Hurricanes received equal treatment to what they dished to Tampa last week.
Take into consideration that this is only the preseason. This is the time to lose games. To find the weaknesses and glaring holes. To fix them before the season kicks off in a week. So what did we learn last night?
Standouts and sustains
Anton Forsberg showed up big tonight, and early. In the first period alone, he stopped 15 shots, several of which were of the high danger variety. Anton showed up big again in the second, stopping seven of eight shots, with Nashville’s Craig Smith beating Forsberg in front of the crease on the power play. He also made this stunning two on none save during a Nashville rush.
The third period he still showed copious amounts of athleticism and skill, despite allowing two goals. One of which was the result of an unusual deflection off a helmet visor of Predator’s alternate captain Mattias Ekholm. Despite critics, Forsberg logged a stellar game, stopping a total thirty-seven shots out of forty, for a .925 save percentage.
Julien Gauthier also logged an excellent game. He registered just shy of fourteen minutes on ice with three shots on goal. His skating and passing looked superb, as did his forecheck. One player I did not mention in the preview article that stood out was Gustav Forsling.
His defense was very spot on throughout the night, even breaking up a developing two on one rush in the first period. With 20:50 time on ice, he registered a single hit but had nine shots on goal.
Erik Haula, Morgan Geekie, and Colin Markison all also had good production on the ice. Haula had a face-off win percentage of 68, 17:29 of ice time, and three shots on goal. Geekie was not far behind, with a face-off win percentage of 60, 16:06 of ice time, and two shots on goal. Markison got significant marks for a pair of takeaways and four shots on goal.
Steven Lorentz also gets a mention as one of the most well rounded forwards dressed tonight. With 15:15 of ice time, he registered three shots on goal, three hits, and boasted a perfect face-off win percentage. Haydn Fleury was also a defensive standout tonight. Playing on his weak side, as Trevor van Riemsdyk is still out on injury, logged two hits, one shot on goal, and 21:57 on ice.
Improvements and Observations
A few significant issues stood out tonight that lead to the Carolina Hurricanes’ loss. The first of which was a lack of discipline on the ice. The Hurricanes amassed a total of fourteen minutes across seven minor penalties. While the Predators were only able to capitalize once on the power play, the Canes were at a man (or more) disadvantage for ten of the fourteen minutes. Being on the penalty kill for three-quarters of a period is not the way to win a game.
Secondly, the Canes lacked a sustained forecheck more often than they had one. When they occupied the offensive zone, unless they moved to strike fast, Nashville was able to force the puck back to center ice with relative ease.
This inability to sustain the forecheck lead to the Hurricanes being called for offsides more than once. One of the team’s greatest strengths last season was the forecheck, and something that the coaching staff will have to work on rebuilding.
Thirdly, aside from the standouts as mentioned above, our backcheck was nothing to write home about. The Predators managed to generate numerous rush opportunities due in part to a sluggish backcheck on a missed pass or takeaway.
As for players, it is becoming increasingly likely that Marin Necas is not cut out for hockey at the NHL level. For a player of his skill level, he has not produced near what has been anticipated to make the opening day roster. Neither has Clark Bishop, who has split games between Charlotte and Carolina last season. Both will likely be assigned to the Checkers come Sunday.
The Carolina Hurricanes faceoff against the Nashville Predators again on Friday, September 27th in Raleigh, NC at 7:30 PM.
With Anton Forsberg’s outstanding performance tonight, do you think he could possibly land the backup position?