Putting together the pieces for a new season is a challenge for every team, and yet for the Carolina Hurricanes that task might seem heightened.
Six newcomers were in the lineup on opening night for the Hurricanes. They seemed to fit right in during Thursday night's 6-3 opening victory against the New York Islanders.
"We brought in veteran guys and they know how to play," Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said.
Now the Hurricanes will see how the new mixture of players works on the road when they play Saturday night at the Nashville Predators.
Ten Carolina players had either a goal or an assist against the Islanders. That included two goals and an assist from right winger Andrei Svechnikov.
He was particularly pleased about how some of the new players around him contributed.
"It's so hard when you come to a new team, it's tough," Svechnikov said. "But they did a great job, for sure."
Carolina's 22 second-period shots in the first game were notable because the Hurricanes had that many in a period only once last season.
"The guys that have joined us I thought played really well. I was actually pleasantly surprised," Brind'Amour said. "Other than a couple of hiccups here or there, they looked like they'd be around for a long time."
Despite playing in opposite conferences in the NHL's normal set-up, Carolina and Nashville became plenty familiar with each other last season. In the restructured pandemic-related alignment, they were in the Central Division and then clashed in the opening round of the playoffs, with the Hurricanes advancing. They'll only meet twice in this regular season, with the rematch in December.
Last season, the Hurricanes won six of eight regular-season games against Nashville.
The Predators opened this season with a 4-3 home loss to the expansion Seattle Kraken on Thursday night. After assessing their debut game, they will aim to create more time with the puck in space.
"Those are some areas where we can clean up and be a little bit better," Predators coach John Hynes said. "There's some learning lessons there. There are going to be breakdowns. There are going to be mistakes."
Center Mikael Granlund racked up three points with a goal and two assists for Nashville.
The Predators put 20-year-old center Philip Tomasino on the ice in his NHL debut, so his development will be worth watching. Hynes said Tomasino tended to play better in some of his later shifts.
"He had a couple of opportunities to be able to put the puck to the net," Hynes said.
The Hurricanes were encouraged by special teams. They were 2-for-5 on power plays.
"I felt like every power play was dangerous and could have had a couple more (goals in those situations)," Brind'Amour said.
Yet Carolina won't be complacent.
"There's a lot of things we need to sharpen up," right winger Nino Niederreiter said.
The Predators won a pair of preseason games against the Hurricanes last week. Those don't matter much for Saturday's matchup.
"You're playing different teams, different lineups," Predators captain Roman Josi said. "The regular season is a lot different."
This is part of Nashville's four-game homestand to open the season. The Hurricanes are playing three straight on the road beginning with this assignment.
--Field Level Media