The Carolina Hurricanes have entered this new season as one of the favorites in the NHL.
They take their show on the road for an extensive trip, beginning Saturday night against the Los Angeles Kings.
This begins a six-game trek, a typical October span when the Hurricanes are generally displaced because of the North Carolina State Fair at the grounds adjacent to the team’s home arena in Raleigh.
Carolina and Los Angeles had different types of opening games.
The Hurricanes scored three goals in the third period of Wednesday night’s 5-3 victory against the Ottawa Senators. The Kings lost 5-2 to the visiting Colorado Avalanche.
While happy with the season debut, there’s not too much to read into that result, according to Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said, who referred to the game as “one of 82.”
Not all was lost for the Kings despite the outcome of their first game.
“I thought we did some good things,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said.
The Kings identified trouble spots with power plays right away after going 0-for-5 in the opener. Los Angeles forward Anze Kopitar said it’s urgent to fix the power play “and try to win some games.”
McLellan said said “the power play was at times dangerous. At times, we looked good doing nothing. We’ve got to fix that a little bit.”
After opening the season at home, Carolina won’t be back on home ice for more than two weeks.
“I don’t mind the long road trip early,” Brind’Amour said. “I think everybody is excited and enthused. When the season gets really long, those trips become really tough. Everyone has to do them. It’s part of it.”
The Hurricanes had 12 players with at least one point in the first game of the season. Spreading out the production has been a key for the team in recent seasons.
“That’s what we need. That’s how we were set up,” Brind’Amour said. “Everybody has to contribute. If we want to be successful, that’s how it’s going to look.”
The Kings already have made roster adjustments, with forward Viktor Arvidsson going on injured reserve.
“(He’s) not going to be out for a little while,” McLellan said.
The Kings called up forward Alex Turcotte and defenseman Brandt Clarke from Ontario of the American Hockey League to replace reassigned forwards Arthur Kaliyev and Alex Laferriere.
Laferriere drew high praise from McLellan from the opening game, but juggling the roster has factored into the moves.
“He has earned the right to play again, in my opinion,” McLellan said of Laferriere, a rookie.
Los Angeles could go with a 12-forward lineup this weekend, though there have been practices with as few as 10 forwards available.
McLellan said there are areas to fix. He said the Kings were beat back to the net and beat out of the corners too much in the first game.
Yet in the opener, McLellan said center Quinton Byfield had his best night in his 100 career games with the Kings.
“It’s something to build on as he goes forward,” McLellan said.