The Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets both got their seasons underway last night. They had similar nights in regulation, as they both went to overtime, the Hurricanes against the Islanders and the Blue Jackets were in Detroit to face the Red Wings. Overtime didn’t go well for the Hurricanes, though, as the Islanders dropped them by a score of 2-1. The Islanders know they don’t have much room for error without John Tavares and they were fortunate to get the extra point last night.
The defence must be much better for the Isles and so far so good for them. Only 81 games to go for the Islanders in the post-Tavares era. They’ve relied on Tavares and the offence to carry the load for years and that will have to change. For the Hurricanes, it’s a huge downer to lose a winnable game at home in the opener. It was a night the Isles struggled to get the offence going, but the Hurricanes couldn’t take advantage.
Failing to get the offence going might be a recurring theme with the Hurricanes this season. Jordan Staal isn’t going any younger and the addition of Michael Ferland isn’t going to provide a quick fix to the offence. Ferland isn’t the only ex-Flame that the Hurricanes targeted, as they also acquired defenceman Dougie Hamilton in a trade with Calgary.
Goaltending was a huge issue for the ‘Canes last season as well. They brought in Petr Mrazek in an attempt to help in that regard. No issues with goaltending last night, with Mrazek stopping 18 of 20 shots, but the offence didn’t come to help out. Scott Darling is expected to miss at least a couple of weeks, so this might be a nice opportunity for Mrazek to seize the opportunity. The Hurricanes will likely look to newly acquired Curtis McElhinney tonight on a back-to-back. Carolina nabbed McElhinney when he was placed on waivers by the Maple Leafs recently. Get our free Hurricanes vs. Blue Jackets pick below.
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Pick
McElhinney hasn’t had much time to acclimate himself in Carolina. It was a good move by the Hurricanes who will be without Darling. Otherwise, they would have needed to look at the AHL and call up a netminder. McElhinney was fine for the Maple Leafs in spots a season ago. Andersen was the clear starter, but McElhinney was good in 18 appearances with a GAA of 2.15 and 0.934 save percentage.
With that said, don’t look for him to duplicate those numbers in 2018-19. Note that McElhinney owns a 4.19 GAA and 0.892 save percentage against the Jackets in his career. The Blue Jackets, on the other hand, are giving the nod to Sergei Bobrovsky the start tonight. Instead of going with their starter in the opener, they’ve kept him for the home opener. Bobrovsky regressed from a 2.06 GAA to a 2.42 GAA last season, but he is still one of the most reliable goaltenders in the NHL.
Losing Seth Jones on the blueline hurts the Blue Jackets to open the season, but they still have a talented group. Young 21-year-old, Zack Werenski, is a superstar waiting to happen. Artemi Panarin figures to be a load to handle for the Hurricanes on the road tonight. He started out the season well with 2 points in the opener against the Red Wings. The Blue Jackets will likely improve on the 2.88 goals per game they averaged last season, 17th in the NHL. Conversely, look for the Hurricanes to struggle to score again tonight against a fresh Bobrovsky in the home opener. Columbus weren’t at their best last night against an inferior opponent, but expect a solid effort back home at Nationwide Arena.