The New York Islanders are the real deal this season and the Hurricanes got caught up in their opening storm. Everyone saw why John Tavares is so dangerous, and why Johnny Boychuk was a big pick up for the Islanders before the start of the season. They scored early and often in both games, and took advantage of 50% of the penalties the Canes committed. The Canes are now 0-2-0 and frustration was clear in the second half the second game. Despite losing back-to-back games to start the season the Canes can’t get frustrated and need to build on some of the positive aspects that came up in both games.
The Power Play
Nathan Gerbe scored the first goal of the season for the Canes in the 5-3 lose in the season opener. He scored on the man advantage in the final period, but the Canes were getting good chances all game on special teams. They were forcing passes early, but seemed to settle in. Taking advantage on the power play is something Canes will need to do a lot this season. Especially if they are playing from behind like they were against the Islanders. Gerbe and Eric Staal both had power play goals in the first game. Jiri Tlusty was all over the place on the power play in the second game scoring two of his three goals on the man advantage. Being in third in the league in power play percentage is something to build on as the Canes try to move forward.
Jiri Tlusty and Andrej Sekera
Tlusty was relatively quiet in the Canes home opener. He had a helper on Eric Staal’s final goal, but before that only registered one shot on goal. He woke up in the second game and was just all over the offensive zone. He kept the Canes alive, answering the Islanders goal in the first period, and then answering on the power play to keep the teams even one more time. His second goal on the power play came off a beautiful feed from Eric Staal. Down two goals late, he responded with his third goal of the game giving the team some life towards the end of a game that seemed out of hand. He also ended the game with a team high five shots. Tlusty could be a bright spot this year, and towards the end of the second game he started to really gel on the first line and power play.
Andrej Sekera played some big minutes for the Hurricanes in both games. He controlled the puck better than the other defenseman for the Canes, and seemed to have a calming affect when handling the puck in the offensive zone. He finished the second game against the Islanders with 26.57 TOI. He did make one big mistake in the game. He was handling the puck in the Islanders zone, and seemed to get away from all the Islanders defenders before holding it a bit to long and getting pick potted and taken the other way. Sekera was trying to do too much, but besides that gaff, he was by far the best defenseman on the ice for the Canes.
It Is Only Two Games
The season is early still and the Canes have a lot to build on moving out of this opening weekend. Getting the Islanders in a home-and-home to start the season is a tough way to get a season going. The Islanders as a team are sky rocketing to the top of the division and the Hurricanes are still trying to get comfortable with a new coach, and have to deal with the injury bug more than any team so far in 2014. They can build on the fact that their power play wasn’t terrible, and the team showed some toughness. Players were taking exception to cheap shots on Eric Staal, and made players pay the price for getting in their goalies face.
The Hurricanes have off until Tuesday when they get Buffalo at home, another team who has had a rough start to the season. Through two games the Sabres are averaging 1.5 goals a game, half of what the Canes are scoring a game, and the Sabres have yet to score on the power play. Eric Staal left the game towards the end of the third period on Saturday with an upper-body injury. The Canes will need his help if they want to bounce back from 0-2. After an offseason of hearing that he needs to step up, Staal had points in both games, including ripping a frustrated power play goal over the shoulder of Jaroslav Halak toward the end of game one. Before leaving the game, Eric Staal picked up his 400th career assist on Tlusty’s second goal. Below is Eric Staal’s first goal of the season.
Philip is a Sports Journalist covering the Pittsburgh Penguins. Duquesne University Journalism Grad 2013.