A bigger “We”

A bigger “We”

From growing up a die-hard sports fan from a very young age, I have been a fan of a number of professional and major college sports teams in a variety of ways. When a person invests a reasonable amount of time an energy into a team, it becomes theirs, and a fan to some degree feels like he/she is part of it. At its core, I really think that is what is at the core of human’s love of sports — the chance to be part of something first and then on top of that to be part of something special. That is why fans regularly use the word “We” to talk about their teams. So when I adopted the Carolina Hurricanes as “my local team” in 1997 after they magically fell out of the sky and into North Carolina, I had a variety of reference points for what it means and/or feels like to be part of a professional sports fan base or community. The Carolina Hurricanes were different from the very beginning. The group that ushered NHL hockey into North Carolina was refreshing and like nothing I had ever experienced before. From my years as a Chicago sports fan growing up there was a natural gap and separation between the team/players and me as part of the fan base. In my years growing up, my interactions with anyone from my favorite teams was a small handful of times my dad took me to wait in line to get an autograph from a single player or two, not one of the stars, who was doing an event somewhere....
ECF Gm4 Vs. Bos: Canes magical season ends in 4-0 loss to the Bruins

ECF Gm4 Vs. Bos: Canes magical season ends in 4-0 loss to the Bruins

Our Carolina Hurricanes hockey community On Thursday night the Carolina Hurricanes absolutely magical 2018-19 season came to an end in a 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins. Short of actually winning the Stanley Cup, I really do not think that the Hurricanes hockey community could have asked for more. Fans experienced every bit of exhilarating, dominating, tense and whatever else one could pack into a deep playoff run. Certainly the ending is disappointing, but that is more about having to let go of something so good than the actual series loss. And yet again our hockey community showed that the relationship between the team and the fan base in Raleigh, North Carolina is truly something unique. You cannot tell me that a fan base in Boston or pretty much anywhere else for that matter would have cheered the team passionately in the finally minute and a half of a 4-0 loss in a series sweep. And that is yet another instance of the Hurricanes hockey community being unique and special. As Canes fans know too painfully, there are no guarantees that success in one season carries over to the next, but there is significant reason to believe that this is only the beginning. The team was the youngest in the 2018-19 playoffs and significantly that youth is in the core players and future leaders of this team. Though they did not get all the way there, this group now knows pretty much what it takes to win a Stanley Cup. As long as they do not trade the hard work and effort that was the foundation of the 2018-19...
‘What I’m watching’ — ECF Gm4 Vs. Bos: Facing elimination, Canes try to say “Not today” to Bruins

‘What I’m watching’ — ECF Gm4 Vs. Bos: Facing elimination, Canes try to say “Not today” to Bruins

Facing elimination, the Carolina Hurricanes return to the ice at PNC Arena for game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Bruins. The long odds of winning four straight games in the NHL playoffs to pull out a stunning series win are well-documented and a legitimate long shot. But I really think the impossibility of winning only game 4 is overstated. The Hurricanes rebounded and generally played the better game on Tuesday. Only some perfect storm of power play ineptitude, missing open nets, Tuukka Rask magic and a couple bizarre lucky saves kept the Hurricanes from winning game 3 and climbing back into the series. Would’ve’s and could’ve’s obviously count for nothing this time of year, but I actually think that if the Hurricanes bring the exact same game as Tuesday the odds of winning are greater than 50 percent just needed to catch any kind of puck luck. At a basic level, there are two keys to winning on Thursday and extending the season for another game. First, the Hurricanes must show the fortitude to bring the same level of effort and intensity as Tuesday, and that must hold even if they face either an early setback or again are not rewarded for dominating play. Second, the Hurricanes need to play a focused and cleaner game. The margin for error in this series has been tiny and one of the Hurricanes’ Achilles’ heels has been too many costly errors. Penalty issues and a special teams again reared their head in Tuesday’s loss, and the penalties taken were largely of the unnecessary variety. If the Hurricanes bring...
Looking forward to game 4

Looking forward to game 4

Down 3-0 and battling a good hockey team and a goalie who is playing out of his mind, the Carolina Hurricanes obviously face long odds to win the series and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. Though it might not feel like it to Canes fans, there is a difference between “long odds” and “zero chance.” Interestingly, the 2014 Los Angeles Kings were the fourth team to come back from a 3-0 deficit. That team went on to win the Stanley Cup. A key player on that team was none other than Justin Williams. As I said on Twitter shortly after Tuesday’s loss: I know optimism is rightfully a near impossible sell right now, but if #Canes wanted to somehow write a script to top #allcaps series win, this would be the start. #TakeWarning — Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) May 15, 2019   What would it take? 1) Belief I think the biggest obstacle to winning a series after falling behind 3-0 is very simply mustering the belief across the entire roster that it will happen. Having lived it, the Hurricanes no doubt have a feeling for the trajectory of this series and the long odds. At the point where even a portion of the roster settles for what has already been accomplished with this season, the season officially ends. Brind’Amour, Williams, Staal, Faulk and whoever else is feeling positive energy has less than 48 hours to get every player to truly believe that a rebound and series win is possible.   2) Focusing on the next game The challenge of winning four straight games is daunting and intimidating....
ECF Gm3 Vs. Bos: Canes get nothing from dominant 1st period and ultimately fall 2-1 to Bruins

ECF Gm3 Vs. Bos: Canes get nothing from dominant 1st period and ultimately fall 2-1 to Bruins

Quick hitters –I think the entire game hinged on the first period. The Canes were dominant but got nothing to show for it on the scoreboard. What stands out most was Teravainen being unable to hit half of an open net (puck was squibbling on way to him which made it tough shot) 30 seconds in and then the inability to score on the 4-on-3/5-on-3 sequence. –As much as I love Justin Williams and everything he has done for the team, I think he missed badly with his first period death wish for Torey Krug. The 4-on-4 sequence midway through the first period relieved pressure for Boston and the subsequent penalties created breaks to help them get their feet under them and survive the first period. –For as many times as the Hurricanes have pumped a bunch of low-quality shots and declared “hot goalie”, I think tonight was legitimate. Rask is in a surreal kind of groove where he makes a dozen great saves and then has luck to back that up. He somehow had a shot he did not see go straight into his glove and another go off his stick and into his glove somehow. I said before the series started that a path to victory would result if they cracked Rask. That has not happened so far. –Special teams was again arguably the difference. The Canes power play just seems to become slower and more predictable by the game. –Important to note is that in no way was Tuesday’s loss the result of lack of effort, heart or character. The effort was 100%. –As I said...