Two of the biggest concerns are names that don’t appear among the leading scorers: Sebastian Aho and Nino Niederreiter. The two have struggled mightily in the young season, combining for two goals and four assists through nine games. Both have appeared visibly frustrated and have been guilty of trying to do too much to break out of their droughts.
Brock McGinn and Warren Foegele, two bottom-six forwards who had strong postseason showings, have also struggled offensively early on, combining for no goals and five assists. While these two aren’t counted on for high-end scoring, their contributions are necessary for delivering a balanced attack that doesn’t rely solely on the top-six.
The recent west coast trip saw the return of something that has long plagued the Hurricanes, a scourge that has negatively affected their power play and even strength offense: forced passes. When the Hurricanes are on their game, they control the flow and pace. Early on, their passes were largely precise and well-timed.
Over the past four games, their passes have, more often than not, looked rushed, resulting in turnovers and icings. To get back to their prior success, the Hurricanes have to find the puck confidence that was there early on.
Taking an optimistic look yields a few reasons for hope. First, Aho and Niederreiter will find their touch. Over his first three seasons, the young Finn has averaged 66 points per season, including a career-best 83 points last season. Niederreiter, a veteran of eight NHL seasons, has averaged 32 points per year. Keep in mind that includes 64 unproductive games with the New York Islanders at the beginning of his career.
Keeping on the positive tack, Hamilton, Teravainen, and Svechnikov have bolted out of the gates this season. As of writing, Hamilton is the fourth-highest scoring defenseman, his ten points putting him tenth in overall scoring as well. Four of those points (1G, 3A) have come on the power play, a trend that will need to continue in order for the Hurricanes to find continued success.
Haula and Dzingel, two of the offseason additions, have immediately meshed with their new team. Haula, with seven goals in nine games, has made a huge impact on the power play, picking up three of his goals on the man advantage. Moreover, he has consistently parked himself in front of the net, making life difficult for the opposing goaltender.
We did get a big scare in Friday’s game against the Ducks, with Haula on the receiving end of a hard hit by Josh Manson. Haula left the game and did not return, though news has trickled out indicating that the Finnish forward did not suffer a concussion. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour added that he doesn’t anticipate Haula missing any time: