By position: Looking back at 2021-22 and forward to 2022-23 — Goalies and defensemen

By position: Looking back at 2021-22 and forward to 2022-23 — Goalies and defensemen

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe will be part of 1 of 2 or possibly 3 going player by player both looking back at the 2021-22 season and forward to building the roster for the 2022-23 season.   Goalies Coming off three consecutive playoff seasons and even modest playoff success with four series wins, cutting lose all three goalies and replacing them with a completely new group is not the norm. But that is the route the Canes made following the 2021-22 season when they let Petr Mrazek and James Reimer leave via free agency and trading up and comer Alex Nedeljkovic, and replaced them with free agents Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta at the NHL level and adding Alex Lyon as a #3 at the AHL level. That transition was generally successful. Driven by recency bias, some might point to Raanta’s poor play in the game 6 loss to the Rangers and that he was the starter in the ugly game 7 loss. But looking bigger picture, Raanta played well in the playoffs except for game 6 versus the Rangers. Even in the lopsided road losses versus the Bruins, Raanta was much more a victim playing behind a rough night for the skaters than a cause of the outcome. And in game 7, Raanta maybe could have made a big save or two to hold the fort longer, but at the end of the day the Rangers were better by a wide margin in game 7, and it was not a game that one can pin on Raanta. During the regular season, Frederik Andersen was Vezina finalist level for...
Five causes for concern/areas for improvement coming out of series win over the Boston Bruins

Five causes for concern/areas for improvement coming out of series win over the Boston Bruins

In yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe, I offered five positives from the Canes first round win over the Boston Bruins. If you missed it, you can find that HERE. And to be clear, the series was a net positive. ANY kind of series win is a positive with minimal bonus points for being impressive other than spending a bit less energy overcoming adversity and sometimes getting a couple extra days to rest, heal and be ready to go again. That said, winning another three rounds will require the Hurricanes to find a higher gear just like it will for the other eight teams remaining in the 2022 NHL Playoffs. In that vein, today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks at areas of concern and possible improvement coming out of the first round series victory.   Areas for concern/improvement (not in particular order)   1) Andrei Svechnikov Though they could be considered more as a duo if Brind’Amour keeps them together to start the second round, I will include the Canes top regular season scorers, Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov, separately here. Though each had some moments neither was overall good in the series. On Svechnikov, he did not score a non empty-net point until game 6 (his first goal and first assist came on empty-netters when the first two games were already decided). He also logged a late power play goal in game 6 when the Canes were down four goals, and the game was already decided. That leaves him with a single goal in game 6 and no assists for scoring points in the series. There is a positive...
What decides Canes’ playoff fate?

What decides Canes’ playoff fate?

After three consecutive playoff berths since Rod Brind’Amour took over as the bench boss, the Carolina Hurricanes entered the 2021-22 NHL season as a team expected to make the playoffs and also a team with a possibility to hoist the Stanley Cup in June. For those with short memories, this is an incredible hockey blessing after a decade-long playoff drought and the heartbreak that came with it. But now making a fourth straight playoff appearance, things shift to a ‘what have you done or me lately?’ situation. The rise was spectacular with the second half run to make the playoffs and then two series victories in 2019. And the decent playoff success so far has made for a nice plateau. The Brind’Amour-led Canes are a solid 4-3 in the playoffs and have never lost in the first round (counting the COVID year play in series win over the Rangers).  The question is whether that plateau will ultimately be just that or if instead it will become the foundation for that last big step. The potential negative with the current situation is that increasingly success will be measured only by playoff success. The Hurricanes have had a strong 2021-22 regular season, but if the team is ousted in the first-round of the playoff, it will largely be for naught. So that raises the all-important question of what it takes for the Hurricanes to push deep into the playoffs.   The every-series/every-team answers Each and every NHL playoff series has the potential to be decided if one team has too sizable of an advantage in either goaltending or special teams scoring....
Random notes: Debacle versus Columbus and goal scoring from the wing

Random notes: Debacle versus Columbus and goal scoring from the wing

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe starts with a few quick thoughts on the ugly 6-0 loss to the Blue Jackets on Thursday and then offers up a few other random thoughts that are a bit more positive.   Thursday’s debacle In general, I think Thursday’s 6-0 loss is just one that you flush quickly and work hard to put behind you with a better effort and a win on Saturday. The weird schedule that just included another 6-day layoff despite traveling to play a game and limited practices was bound to catch up to the team and did in a rough way. Couple that with a Columbus team that wanted to exact revenge after the humiliating Canes win in Columbus last week, and you had a perfect storm. The game was actually a bit similar to last Friday’s game against the Flames. The Hurricanes similarly came out flat but ultimately found their footing in time and won the game. The Hurricanes did push back in the second period but were not rewarded with a goal at which point things went south. As stated above, I would mostly just write this one off, but the one thing that I would watch closely as the season proceeds is how the blue line looks without Jaccob Slavin in the lineup . I finished yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe by saying: In addition, I think Slavin is required to make that second top 4 pairing go, so I question whether the Canes could survive needing to bump everyone up a slot in the event of a playoff-time injury to Slavin, Pesce or Skjei. I...
What and why for Hurricanes signing 2016 draftee, goalie Jack LaFontaine

What and why for Hurricanes signing 2016 draftee, goalie Jack LaFontaine

Thanks to those who reached out to make sure I am okay during my writing hiatus. I am fine; just hit a combination of a couple things taking a lot of energy and a couple others taking a lot of time and not with flexibility for the after midnight writing that I have relied on at times to get through busy stretches in the past. Hope is to get into a regular rhythm for writing about Canes and hockey on a steady basis even if not daily, so check in here and there, and you should find something to read most times.   Jack LaFontaine overcomes setbacks on path to NHL contract As a starting point, Jack LaFontaine’s path to his first NHL contract is a great story. As a rising 18-year old prospect, he was drafted by the Hurricanes in the third round of the 2016 NHL Draft. Slotted to play for a top-tier NCAA program at the University of Michigan, there were no guarantees, but he clearly had a direct path to an NHL contract a couple years down the road. And like most athletes of his caliber at his age, I would be shocked if he did not have a bunch of people telling him how great he was and was going to be. And that is about when the train to the NHL was completely derailed. LaFontaine entered a crowded crease with a couple veterans in the mix and struggled to find his footing. In his freshman year at Michigan, he finished with a 1-7-1 record and 3.34 goals against average. His .911 save percentage...
Re-sign or replace Jordan Martinook?

Re-sign or replace Jordan Martinook?

Yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe started down the road of considering the group of players that the Carolina Hurricanes must either re-sign or replace. First up was Dougie Hamilton who looms as the biggest off-season decision for the Hurricanes and also Hamilton himself. You can find that article HERE. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe considers Jordan Martinook.   Looking backward From day one, Jordan Martinook has been a tremendous addition to the team’s leadership and the local hockey community. He is adored by teammates and fans alike and earned the letter on his jersey from his leadership and role as someone who pulls the team together. In terms of leadership, character, fabric of the team and just being an all-around great person, Jordan Martinook is a good fit for any team. As a player, Martinook burst onto the scene in Raleigh scoring 15 goals including five game-winners in his first season with the Hurricanes in 2018-19. Those career highs won him a two-year extension at $2 million per year. In the two years of that contract, he has scored two goals in 45 games and four games in 44 games in 2019-20 and 2020-21 respectively. His 24-point pace for an 82-game season is a decent pace for mostly fourth-line ice time and now power play minutes.   Looking forward Many things have changed since Martinook’s arrival, but two are maybe most significant in considering whether to re-sign or instead replace him. First, the Hurricanes have seemingly effected the the culture change needed and have become a regular playoff team. That accomplishment which Martinook clearly played a role in has...