Going into the 2019-2020 NHL Regular Season, the Carolina Hurricanes have a lot of hype surrounding them. They are coming off a historic season that saw them take down the Washington Capitals, who were a season removed from a Stanley Cup, and the talented New York Islanders in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs en route to an Eastern Conference Finals date with the Boston Bruins.
One reason the Canes have hype is a couple of the new guys they have on their team, whether it be through draft picks, free agent signings, or trades. A preseason is a team’s best chance to showcase their new guys. Some of these guys fight to be on the top line, while others are fighting for a roster spot.
The first game of the 2019 NHL Preseason for the Canes was on Tuesday, Spetember 17 in Florida against the Tampa Bay Lightning, last year’s top seed in the Eastern Conference. Two of the Canes’ goalie acquisitions, James Reimer and Anton Forsberg, shined in net as the two big stars of the night, combining for 15 saves. In addition to the performance in net, the Canes scored three goals en route to a 3-0 win against the Lightning. The first goal was from former Ottawa Senators winger Max McCormick, who scored only 1:19 into the game, the second was from Lucas Wallmark at the 5:53 mark of the third period, and the third goal was from new winger Colin Markison, who spent last season with the AHL’s Texas Stars.
The second game was the very next day, the Canes’ home preseason debut, against the very same opponent. The Canes carried their same mojo over from their preseason opener, shutting out the Lightning 2-0. This time, the scoring was done by Steven Lorentz, the 6’4″, 210-pound center who won the Calder Cup with the Charlotte Checkers last year, and Clark Bishop, the Canes’ 2014 fifth-round draft pick who also won the Calder Cup with the Checkers last year. Petr Mrazek and Checkers goalie Alex Nedeljkovic split time in goal.
The two games against the Lightning were the only two wins the Canes picked up in the preseason, as their next (and final) four games all ended in defeat. First up, a road contest against an angry Capitals team. The Caps won this game, 3-2, and went up 3-0 in the second period. Game Seven hero Brock McGinn scored a goal to make it 3-1, Janne Kuokkanen made it 3-2, but that was all the Canes would get, as their comeback attempt fell short.
Next, the Canes traveled to Music City to take on the Nashville Predators. There was offense in this game, but it was only from the Predators, who ended up winning 3-0. The Canes spent almost a whole period worth of minutes in the penalty box, as their skaters totaled 14 penalty minutes in this game.
As the Canes returned home for their fifth preseason game, also against the Nashville Predators, they hoped to get the same offense back that they found against the Capitals. The Canes would get a goal in the second period from Jordan Staal to put them up 1-0, but that would be all they got. Anthony Richard scored in the third period for the Preds, Ryan Johansen scored the overtime winner, and the Canes lost by a score of 2-1.
The final preseason game for the Canes, which was the Caniac Carnival on Sunday, September 29, saw the Canes find their offense. For the first time since their opening preseason game, the Canes scored three goals in this game: one from Andrei Svechnikov, one from Nino Neiderreiter, and one from Sebastian Aho. Unfortunately, these three goals were not enough for the Canes, as they lost 4-3.
In conclusion, the Canes had a up-and-down preseason. Sure, they would have liked to win more than two games, but they showed that they are still a good hockey team. As I mentioned earlier in my article, the preseason is a time for the younger guys and new acquisitions to show they deserve a spot on the team, and the Canes had guys do just that.
And as the Canes prepare for their regular season opener, which is tomorrow night (Thursday, October 3) against the Montreal Canadiens, they will look for their offense to carry over from Sunday, combined with some stellar goaltending.
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