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The Canes started the tournament off with a strong 4-1 win against the St. Louis Blues. The Blues were the team that I was the most concerned about heading into the tournament. Players such as Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas, Dominik Bokk, Klim Kostin, and Evan Fitzpatrick were going to be a real nuisance for the Hurricanes. These players have a ton of talent between them. On top of that, three of the Hurricanes’ defensemen were invites, which may have been a weak point to exploit. Luckily, the Canes were able to play responsible defense for most of the game. Jeremy Helvig was outstanding for the Hurricanes, allowing just one goal and making over 25 saves in the process.
Morgan Geekie started the scoring for the Hurricanes early in the second period. He started the breakout in his own zone by sending a pass to Luke Henman, who carried the puck out of the zone. Henman passed the puck across the ice to Stelio Mattheos, who carried the puck into the offensive zone. Mattheos’ hard work allowed for him to make a pass to Morgan Geekie, who sent a shot five hole for the goal. It was a simple play that was executed perfectly. The Canes’ second goal came off of some great passing from Bean, Necas, and Svechnikov. The goal was scored by Julien Gauthier on the power play. It took a while for the Hurricanes to score again, but Martin Necas was there to knock in a rebound to make it 3-0 in the third period. St. Louis scored on a two on one thanks to a goal from Jake Walman, but Janne Kuokkanen answered back after taking a spectacular pass from Svechnikov and making no mistake on the shot. Jeremy Helvig made some phenomenal saves along the way and was one of the reasons why the Hurricanes were able to stay in the game.
The Hurricanes did an excellent job of making sure that the Blues’ top players were covered. Robert Thomas was limited to one assist, as was Jordan Kyrou. Klim Kostin was effective in the offensive zone, but the Hurricanes did a tremendous job of limiting his chances offensively. Overall, the Hurricanes played a very smooth defensive game. Their breakouts were good, their coverage was good for the most part, and they got in the shooting lanes. The Canes were a little hesitant to shoot on Fitzpatrick, and more often than not would pass and give up a good scoring chance. Those little issues won’t be as much of a problem tomorrow against the Blackhawks.
I took quite a few notes during this game, so we’ll get into them in chronological order. Some players will be mentioned more than once, while others may not be mentioned at all.
- Michael Fora has an Anton Babchuk shot. It’s a very hard shot, but you never have any idea where it’s going to go
- Both Svechnikov and Roy are great along the boards. The two of them play aggressively in the corners and will always fight for the puck.
- David Levin seems to be playing at a higher level than the other invites that he is playing with. He looks more polished than Ralph and Grondin in terms of skating, defense, etc.
- Necas’ shot has a lot more on it now. He’s gotten stronger in a lot of areas and his shot seems quicker
- The first goal was brilliant in its simplicity. Geekie collects the puck in front of the net and quickly dishes it to Henman. Henman passes it to Mattheos from the opposite wing. Mattheos carries the puck into the zone, gains some separation, and makes a nice pass to Geekie. Geekie shoots five hole and scores a goal off of a great shot. What a clean play. It wasn’t flashy, but it’s the type of play that you want your players to execute. A clean breakout leads to a goal at the other end.
- Geekie’s shot has been NHL ready since last season, and it’s only gotten better over the past year. He’s described as a playmaker, but I really love his shot.
- Saarela is surprisingly strong on the puck. For a smaller forward, he’s a pain to try to defend
- Svechnikov’s shot is elite. His placement is perfect, and it allowed for Gauthier to collect a rebound and score
- Gauthier’s goal was nice to see. He’s playing in front of the net more often which makes it impossible for goalies to see around him.
- Bean manning the point on the power play feels right. He’s great at keeping the puck moving. I’d like to see him shoot a bit more to create rebounds, though.
- Stelio Mattheos plays like a veteran out there. So much confidence. He’s the only one that’ll forecheck and backcheck on every shift.
- Gauthier looks like a completely different player. He’s faster, better at making decisions, and a better passer.
- Svechnikov draws a penalty
- Eliot is getting power play time and I don’t hate it. He’s strong on the puck and does a good job of keeping the penalty killers hemmed in their own zone.
- Fora had a second chance and blistered a shot wide. You never can tell where his shot is going.
- Too much passing on the second power play, not enough shots.
- Henman’s shot is pretty good, it just needs a little work on accuracy.
- Speaking of Henman, he’s not the best skater just yet. His foot speed is average, and so is his acceleration. Once he adds muscle and his legs get stronger, he could be a fun player to watch.
- Jeremy Helvig looks amazing. His big frame allows him to cover a lot of the net already, and he’s gotten a lot quicker. He doesn’t have happy feet anymore, which means that he’ll stay in the crease and not drift. He hasn’t made a whole lot of great saves just yet, but he looks like a very stable presence in net
- Nicolas Roy kills momentum early on in the second period by taking a penalty. His line just had a good shift, too.
- Mattheos is an excellent penalty killer. Not only is he good at getting the puck out of the zone, but he’ll hound forwards trying to enter the zone and look to create turnovers.
- Jeremy Helvig just robbed Foley with a spectacular toe save. He got across just in time to snuff out that opportunity.
- The more I see Luke Henman play, the more I like him. He does a lot of little things well in all three zones. He stopped on a dime to lose a defender, and then passed the puck immediately after. If he had held onto the puck for a second longer, the Hurricanes could have had a scoring chance. A big part of his development will be learning to look for those plays. He seems to be a smart player, so it shouldn’t take long.
- Geekie seems stronger. He had a few instances where he was hard to knock off of the puck.
- De Jong with his patented shot fake to gain separation from a defender. He seems more willing to get involved offensively this year.
- Saarela is a forward that you can always rely upon to place himself right in the shooting lanes to block shots.
- Helvig got a little too aggressive on a poke check and it almost cost him. Luckily he was able to recover and make a nice glove save in the crease.
- Henman is good at initiating breakouts. His passes always find the tape of teammates and exit the zone.
- Svechnikov lays the body in a big way to create a turnover. He seemed hesitant to shoot and ended up turning the puck over trying to make a pass. These jitters are normal and shouldn’t happen next game.
- Henman is a good passer. He’s surprised me a lot today with how he’s handled himself in this game. You rarely see him turning the puck over, and his on-ice vision is great.
- Necas scores. He’s had a fairly quiet game, so it’s good to see him get on the scoresheet. He crashed the net, which is great to see. He wouldn’t do that last season.
- Gauthier just did the most infuriating thing that I’ve ever seen. He takes an offensive zone penalty to negate the rest of a power play and then phones it in for the rest of the shift. He just gives up before the whistle is blown.
- I want more of Roy on the PK. He and Mattheos allow nothing past them. Roy is constantly getting in the way of any offensive opportunities whatsoever, and even takes the puck into the offensive zone shorthanded. Give me more.
- Finally, Svechnikov turns on the jets for an easy goal for Kuokkanen. Such a phenomenal burst of speed from the 18-year-old and an even better pass.
Overall, this was an excellent game for the Hurricanes prospects. There were a few weak moments, especially in the second period, but the team fought hard for a win. Tomorrow’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks will be an excellent test for the team to see how well they perform in a back-to-back setting.