Despite the odds, the Carolina Hurricanes are beaten by Nashville in Overtime for the second year in a row
Like “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray, the Carolina Hurricanes lose to the Nashville Predators in overtime. In a cruel twist of fate, Predators centerman Ryan Johansen is yet again the game-winner for the mustard cats.
Despite expectations, veteran and starting goaltender Petr Mrazek got the nod to kick-off the evening. While there weren’t many high danger shots he faced, they were copious through the two periods he played. Nineteen saves on nineteen shots, thirteen at even strength, two shorthanded attempts, and four on the man disadvantage.
Petr’s performance is a good indicator that he will be in great shape come opening night. Going into the third period, fellow veteran James Reimer took the pipes. It took Nashville a total of 180 seconds to score.
It was on an odd-man rush and beat Reimer on the five-hole. His performance would improve for the remaining seventeen minutes of the period. Despite a stellar save on a backhander by Craig Smith, Remeir would leave the net a little too open for Johansen.
Reimer’s shakey performance through the third and overtime culminated in nine saves on eleven shots (a .818 save percentage). I would say it is a safe bet to say that Anton Forsberg will land the backup role.
Carolina Hurricanes veterans Jordan Staal, the favorite for the captaincy for next season, and Jaccob Slavin, lead the team in shots on goal tonight with four apiece. Staal registered the team’s sole tally, a mere nineteen seconds into the second period off of his signature snap. The Hurricanes also showed that they are likely to have one of the stronger penalty kill units in the league this season.
But that’s about all that went right for the team tonight. Like Wednesday, the Hurricanes took numerous minor penalties, totaling eight minutes. Two of the infractions were by rookie phenom Andrei Svechnikov, both of them for poor stick handling. This was an issue during the season last year and continues to be something the young Russian will have to continue working on.
Passing was also a significant problem for the Hurricanes tonight. Numerous passes were blatantly telegraphed and intercepted, forcing the Canes onto the defensive. These totaled for a massive sixteen giveaways, compared to Nashville’s three.
This resulted in extreme difficulties in breaking out from the defensive zone. The problems the Canes had with passing also robbed them of more than a few quality scoring chances throughout the game.
While the penalty kill was on point tonight, the power play most certainly was not. Of the four opportunities on the man advantage, the Canes managed a meager three shots on goal. Those three shots ended up spread out, roughly evenly.
It is strikingly similar to the 2018-2019 season where Carolina ranked in the bottom quarter of the league. Some significant changes will need to be made to make our special teams less lopsided.
Given James Reimer’s performance tonight, who do you think has won the backup goaltender battle?
Bonus Question! What do you think the Hurricanes need to do to improve their special teams?