Digesting the Tampa Bay Lightning series

Digesting the Tampa Bay Lightning series

On Saturday, the Carolina Hurricanes moved on from the four-game set against Tampa Bay and picked up a needed win against the Florida Panthers to get back on track. Even with the shortened 2020-21 NHL schedule there is a lot of hockey yet to be played in the regular season. But a unique chance to square off against the reigning Stanley Cup champions offered a great evaluation point deep enough into the season to have meaning. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe considers the series and what it means for the 2020-21 Carolina Hurricanes from a few angles.   Are the Hurricanes at the same level? Based on the results of the series, I would say that the Hurricanes are either at that level or close. Tampa Bay deserves credit for winning three out of four and has a rightful claim to being the better team even if maybe only by a modest margin. Results do matter. If I work through the games, the Hurricanes were the better team by a wide margin in the first game which they won decisively. I thought Tampa Bay deserved their game 2 win even if only by a slight margin and were dominant in game 3. Despite the loss, I thought the Hurricanes were better in game 4. When I net it out, the series was pretty even, but I do give the edge to Tampa Bay based on results. At a bare minimum, I think it is fair to say that the Hurricanes can hang with the Lightning in a long NHL series if they play well.   Did the series uncover...
Crazy Canes scoring paces through 16 games

Crazy Canes scoring paces through 16 games

News to no one who tracks the  Carolina Hurricanes or the NHL in general is the fact that the Hurricanes are off to a tremendous start. As measured by points per game played to adjust for games in hand, the Hurricanes are second only to Toronto. Significant credit for the success has come from scoring surges throughout the lineup. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks at some of the crazy scoring paces currently for the Carolina Hurricanes.   (Most amounts are projected for a regular 82-game season.)   Scoring Points Using games played by individual players not the team, the Hurricanes have four forwards who are on pace for a point or more per game in Vincent Trocheck, Andrei Svechnikov, Sebastian Aho and Jordan Staal. To put that in perspective, the team has had exactly one player score more than a point per game (Sebastian Aho in 2018-19) and before the emergence of Aho and Teravainen had a run with only one or two players above 50 points.   Goals Looking at projections for goals scored is even crazier. The Hurricanes have three players with seven goals and two more with nine. Seven goals is a massive 36-goal pace, and nine goals is a 46-goal pace. In Hurricanes history, only Eric Staal (twice) and Jeff O’Neill have scored 40 goals in a season. Jiri Tlusty was on pace in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, and Sebastian Aho was on pace last seaon before COVID halted the season. So needless to say, two players on pace for 40-plus goals and three more pacing for 36 is incredible.   Standings Points The...
2020-21 Canes as 2005-06 Canes

2020-21 Canes as 2005-06 Canes

Today’s Daily Cup of takes a shot at casting current Carolina Hurricanes players as 2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes players. The matches are not perfect obviously, but I think certain characteristics do match up. Hoping people chime in with many more.   Teuvo Teravainen as Ray Whitney (the playmaker) Ray Whitney was a passing and playmaking wizard from the wing. He had physical ability too, but his assist totals were driven by how well he thought the game and how well he could identify or if necessary create passing lanes for scoring chances. That same descriptions is Teravainen in a nutshell.   Jordan Martinook as Ray Whitney (the leader) Ray Whitney did not wear a letter on the 2006 Stanley Cup champions, but he was one of many secondary leaders on that team. On one hand, Ray Whitney was a prankster and jokester. He was known for photo-bombing Tripp Tracy EVERY GAME during his pre-game interviews and had a well-earned reputation for in the locker room as well. But the other side of Ray Whitney was a fierce competitor and a leader whose seriousness carried extra weight because it was utilized when necessary. Martinook is similar in that he is an affable person by nature and fun/funny but has that same ability to lead by example in taking every shift seriously on the ice.   Andrei Svechnikov as Eric Staal There are some obvious differences like position and to some degree style of play, but there are also some interesting similarities between Eric Staal and Andrei Svechnikov. In 2005-06, Staal was entering his third season as a professional (he spent the...
Speculating on Rod Brind’Amour’s thought process with regard to the forward line shuffling

Speculating on Rod Brind’Amour’s thought process with regard to the forward line shuffling

There is only one goal From day 1 and with a team that seemed miles away from contending for a Stanley Cup, that was Rod Brind’Amour’s goal — to win it all. Playoff berths and playoff series wins are not achievements. They are just stepping stones toward the ultimate goal and nothing more. When contemplating why Brind’Amour makes decisions that he does, I think it is important to start from remembering his mindset focused only on one goal, winning the Stanley Cup.   Line combinations with an eye for playoff success One of the favorite things to second guess Brind’Amour on right now is line combinations. Not a day goes by without a mini-uproar that ___ is on the top line with Sebastian Aho instead of Andrei Svechnikov. If the aim was to build the best first line possible, slotting Svechnikov next to Aho and just running with it would be a no-brainer. And those who think that Brind’Amour is not smart enough to know this are missing the boat. Remember the goal – the only goal. Brind’Amour knows from experience over the years and actually more specifically from this Hurricanes team that it is possible to score in bunches and win in the regular season with a top-heavy lineup. But beating other good teams late in the playoffs when both teams are good, the opponent is generally sound defensively and goals are hard to come by requires a deeper lineup that has at least two lines that can generate offense consistently and at least three lines if not four that excel at their brand of hockey even if...
Hurricanes trade Ryan Dzingel to Ottawa for Cedric Paquette and Alex Galchenyuk

Hurricanes trade Ryan Dzingel to Ottawa for Cedric Paquette and Alex Galchenyuk

Before Saturday’s game, it was announced that the Hurricanes had acquired Cedric Paquette and Alex Galchenyuk from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Ryan Dzingel. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks at the trade in a bit more detail than my initial comments on Twitter.   Exiting Ryan Dzingel Before the 2019-20 season the Carolina Hurricanes signed Ryan Dzingel as a free agent with the aim of adding another finisher on the wing. Before arriving, he had scored 26 and 23 goals in the two prior seasons. But he never seemed to find his groove with the Hurricanes and mostly bounced around the lineup trying to find a higher gear. In 75 games with the Hurricanes, he had scored only 10 goals and collected only 33 points. For a player whose strength and expected contribution was scoring, that just not enough. And as a player who is not as strong in other facets of the game, he was not an ideal fit for a depth role nor is he priced right for that role at $3.375 million salary cap hit. Maybe as much as anything, this trade was about moving on from a player who just did not work out as hoped.   The return But in addition to moving on, the Hurricanes also netted a good return in terms of adding quality to the bottom half of the roster.   Cedric Paquette The primary return was center Cedric Paquette. Paquette is a bit of an old school fourth-liner who plays with a physical edge and even a bit of throwback nastiness. The telltale sign that Head Coach Rod...
Random Canes notes — Alex Nedeljkovic, Brady Skjei and Andrei Svechnikov

Random Canes notes — Alex Nedeljkovic, Brady Skjei and Andrei Svechnikov

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe has a set of random Canes musings.   Alex Nedeljkovic I would rate Nedeljkovic’s first start of the 2020-21 season as slightly positive and roughly what one would hope to get from a backup goalie. On the positive side, Nedeljkovic did not have any errors or soft goals. He kept his team in the game until late and gave them a chance to win. And he made a few good saves along the way despite giving up three goals against a modest 22 shots against. None of the goals against were the kind that one pins directly on the goalie. The first was an odd deflection of Svechnikov’s back. The second was on a penalty shot. And the third was on a partial breakaway. That said, being successful at the NHL level requires more than just making the easy saves. The difference between decent or slightly positive or maybe neutral and very good or great is very small. If Nedeljkovic’s robs Roslovic and the Hurricanes go on to win 3-2, the outlook changes dramatically. Such is the difficult life of an NHL goalie. But at a basic level, Nedeljkovic should have increased his level of trust and confidence such that he gets the next logical turn for the backup. With the Hurricanes next four games spaced neatly every other day, it will be interesting to see if Brind’Amour gives Nedeljkovic another turn in one of those four games or waits until the back-to-back set next Friday and Saturday. I am not of the mind to upset the apple cart in terms of pecking order....