RALEIGH, N.C. – Even while the Carolina Hurricanes’ dropped a 5-4 preseason decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets at PNC Arena on Wednesday, head coach Kirk Muller made positive assessments of the play of forward Elias Lindholm and defenseman Ryan Murphy.
Lindholm, the team’s top pick (fifth overall) in the 2013 National Hockey League (NHL) Entry Draft, got a taste of preseason play centering a line between Jeff Skinner and Nathan Gerbe for most of the night.
He saw some special teams ice time and skated for just over 16 minutes, a time during which he also dished out two hits and blocked a shot.
“I liked his game tonight,” Muller said of the rookie’s play.
“He’s missed some time with his injury over the summer and we knew from the rookie games that the conditioning would be a little bit of a factor, and then stepping into this level of play he’d have to push himself. I think he has, but I thought the game was the best performance compared to the practice because he’s had a few more days of skating and working and getting under this pace.“
Even while not recording a point in his NHL debut, Lindholm showed that he could be effective at both ends of the ice and it’s a focus that the coach is expecting all of his players to have.
“He’s a smart, he’s good in traffic, makes little plays,” Muller continued.
“He definitely understands the game, both with the puck and without. I was really pleased with his performance tonight.”
As Carolina’s youngest defenseman on the roster against the Blue Jackets, Murphy also put in a performance that the coach made particular note of.
The Hurricanes’ top draft pick (12th overall) in 2011 logged almost 23 minutes of playing time, the most of any player on the team, and finished with a positive plus-minus (+1) rating while taking two shots on goal and blocking one as well.
“Murph I thought he looked calm tonight,” Muller said.
“The thing was his decision-making. He joined the rush and went up ice at the right times, but he didn’t do it wrecklessly. He chose good decisions and playing 5-on-5 defensively, I thought he did a good job. I was pleased with Murph’s game as well.”