It’s finally the 2023-24 NHL season and I hope you’re as hyped for hockey as I am, Caniacs! I know I’m ready to watch games and write about my faves. I actually got to go to the Canes’ home opener and needless to say, it was pretty awesome. Even though my predictions were incorrect, here are my takeaways from and commentary on the experience.
Moments that sound the siren:
- Michael Bunting’s powerplay goal in the second period. Not only was that the first goal for the Canes this season, it was Bunting’s first as a Hurricane. I missed it because I got food, but I could see and feel the excitement from the crowd when I got back.
- Frederik Andersen was unstoppable! Sure, there were a few goals from the Senators, but he made 30 saves and had a .900 save percentage. I can still hear the “Fre-ddie, Fre-ddie!” chants perfectly clear, and there’s a reason why Andersen was being cheered. For a season opener, he was looking pretty good.
- The typical Carolina comeback in the third period. I was genuinely nervous that the game was going to go into overtime, but thankfully that was not the case. Right after Ottawa’s Tim Stüzle scored to tie the game, Brady Skjei and Jaccob Slavin scored their first respective goals of the season.
Ave’s Hurricane Watch:
- This is something new I’m going to add to my Faves features this season, where I pick players that I think stand out the most from a game or will impress fans. For my first Hurricane Watch, I pick Michael Bunting and Dmitry Orlov. In a recent Tweet, I did say that Bunting and Orlov were going to beef up defense and that their signings were smart moves. My bad, I forgot to add offense since Bunting is a forward. After watching them play, I can’t wait to see what else they’ll contribute this season.
- There was a capacity of 18,893 fans at PNC, and combined with last season’s 31 sold out games, the Canes began this season with the highest average fan attendance in team history. I think that’s awesome, and I’m proud to be a part of that 18,893 fans that were at the home opener.
- Dmitry Orlov had clean hits throughout the game, but his hip check against Mathieu Joseph in the third period stands out. Not only was that satisfying to watch, it shows that no-nonsense mentality that Orlov will add to defense.
- I saw a tougher mentality from the Hurricanes as a whole since there were some fisticuffs during the game. For example, in the second period, Brady Tkachuk roughed Jordan Martinook and Martinook didn’t back down from a physical exchange. To me, that shows grit and I hope to see more of that (but not goon behavior) from Carolina.
Moments that go in the penalty box:
- There were some things that should have been penalties but weren’t called as such, like tripping for example, against Ottawa. There was a lot of booing (myself included because I might wear glasses but I know a penalty when I see one), but I will say, it was kind of funny when the horn for the “Let’s. Go. Canes!” chant sounded and fans instead yelled “Ref. You. Suck!” To me, the vibes varied in the arena, and I strongly think that the lack of necessary calls and the Senators tying the game in the third period had to do with that.
- At one point during the game, “Last Night” by Morgan Wallen was played. Only in North Carolina would country music be played during a hockey game, but respectfully, that song choice didn’t scream “pump up the crowd” to me. While I can’t speak for the whole crowd, I didn’t feel any extra energy from my section. At least it wasn’t Taylor Swift.
Overall, it was a good game, especially for a opener, and I’m glad I got to go. Hopefully there’s more to come. What I hope changes for the Hurricanes this season is gaining and keeping or at least maintaining a consistent lead during games instead of re-gaining it later in the game (what I call the Carolina comeback) since I noticed that a lot last year. The Canes have proven themselves in recent years to have a strong presence in the NHL, and while it’s probably too early to make predictions, this can likely be their year for the Stanley Cup.