‘What I’m watching’ — 2020 Playoffs — Gm5 @Bos: Facing elimination, Canes seek bounce back from collapse to even series

‘What I’m watching’ — 2020 Playoffs — Gm5 @Bos: Facing elimination, Canes seek bounce back from collapse to even series

After an absolutely horrid third period collapse in game 4 that saw the Hurricanes go from a 2-0 lead after two periods to a 4-2 deficit 15 minutes later and ultimately a 4-3 loss, the team will try to bounce back in game 5. No doubt, coming back from a 3-1 deficit is long odds. But even regardless of results, I think game 5 is now incredibly important for measuring what this team is made of. There is nothing shameful in losing a playoff series to a good team. But there is a bigger problem with a combination of collapsing and then just packing it in. So as much as today’s game represents a chance to climb one game deeper into the series, I think very simply how the team reacts has a bearing on the future. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offered four reasons for optimism and hope. You can find that HERE. Those thoughts also play into my watch points for Wednesday’s game.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Boston Bruins 1) Determined or downtrodden? Per my introduction, because of how game 4 ended, I think today’s game becomes a measure of who the Hurricanes are in terms of heart, character and leadership. Are they meek and fragile such that any kind of Bruins push causes them to meekly accept their fate and quickly accept that the season is over? Or does this Hurricanes team show some fire and determination after being embarrassed? More so even than results or level of play, that is what I will be watching?   2) Testing Jaroslav...
‘What I’m watching’ — 2020 Playoffs — Gm4 Vs. Bos: Canes seek bounce back to even series

‘What I’m watching’ — 2020 Playoffs — Gm4 Vs. Bos: Canes seek bounce back to even series

Some of what follows stems from my (belated) post-game article on game 3 which you can find HERE.   Saturday was a tough day in the Canes quest to win the Stanley Cup. The Canes were mostly stymied and scored only a single gift-wrapped goal on a goalie gaffe. The team lost Andrei Svechnikov to injury. And the deserved 3-1 loss put the team down 2-1 in the best of seven series. No doubt the trend is negative and has the potential to be the beginning of the end — just because it always does. But every single great story of Canes playoff jubilation includes a healthy dose of downs that just make the up swing on the playoff roller coaster that much more exhilarating. Some people asserted that game two was a must-win for the Canes after losing game 1. Recent history of the Capitals series suggests that is not true. More significantly, I think the key factor is not reaching a point where winning three games in a row is required. That does not occur in a seven-game series until a team is down 3-0 or 3-1 in a seven-game series. So with a loss on Monday, the Canes would enter that dangerous territory needing to win three straight which does for me make Monday a must-win game. So putting things optimistically, Monday’s game represents a tremendous opportunity for the Canes to generate yet another exhilarating upswing on the roller coaster and at the same time make it clear to the Boston Bruins and NHL that they are a worthy foe and destined for a long, hard-fought...
‘What I’m watching’ — 2020 Playoffs — Gm3 Vs. Bos: Game on! Canes seek repeat of frenetic mode

‘What I’m watching’ — 2020 Playoffs — Gm3 Vs. Bos: Game on! Canes seek repeat of frenetic mode

After a tough struggle battling the Boston Bruins and the referees in Boston and a hard-earned split of the first two games, the series now moves to Raleigh where the Canes gain a sizable advantage from the electric atmosphere in PNC Arena……… Sadly and more seriously, the series does shift a bit after two games. I think those who were calling game two a must-win for the Hurricanes missed the 2019 NHL Playoffs. A two-game deficit is nearly impossible in a five-game series because it requires winning three straight. But in a seven-game series a 2-0 deficit especially with a flip to home team/last change is far from insurmountable. That said, getting back to even before gaining a bit more control of match ups is a great place to be for the Hurricanes. My pre-game posts and writing in general are heavy with trying to analyze and dissect all kinds of details like match ups, how players will/must/did perform and other things. But I really think the Canes win in game two had very little to do with that and much more to do with finding a higher gear in terms of determination and compete. As I said in my post-game notes, the game seemed to shift to ‘random and frenetic’ at about the midway point of the game. Though that was not always pretty, it clearly benefited the Hurricanes who seemed faster to pucks and better able to drive results out of the chaos. That quest for more ‘random and frenetic’ features in my game preview as done the Hurricanes having last change.   ‘What I’m watching’ for...
‘What I’m watching’ — 2020 Playoffs — Gm2 @Bos: Trying to find a formula

‘What I’m watching’ — 2020 Playoffs — Gm2 @Bos: Trying to find a formula

After a day to digest Tuesday’s 4-3 double overtime loss to the Boston Bruins, I come away with both positive and negatives heading into game two. On the positive side, the Hurricanes did not play their best game and had to deal with some officiating adversity and yet were within an overtime bounce of stealing a win. But on the negative side of the ledger, I really did not like how the match up played out or how my watch points for the series measured up in the first game. At a very basic level, my darkest fear is that the Bruins are the worst possible match up for the Canes. This is not because they are a tremendous team, which they are, but rather because one of their greatest strengths is basically the kryptonite for the Canes greastest weapon — their forecheck. Even pretty good teams can struggle against the Canes forecheck if their back end is not skilled at moving the puck and/or if their forwards/system do not get how to support the puck coming out of the defensive zone. This is a strength for the Bruins. The team’s blue line is balanced and with decent or better ability to move the puck. Maybe more significantly, the Bruins as well as any team in the NHL have forwards and a system that know how to support the puck and not leave defensemen on an island. The result too often is that the Bruins can beat the first layer of the Canes forecheck often even before it is triggered. And if you can quickly beat the aggressive first...
‘What I’m watching’ — 2020 Playoffs — Gm1 @Bos: Seeking revenge

‘What I’m watching’ — 2020 Playoffs — Gm1 @Bos: Seeking revenge

After an impressive three-game sweep of the New York Rangers in the qualifying round of the 2020 NHL Playoffs, the Hurricanes had to wait to see who they would play next. Would it be a heated rematch against the Capitals? Or would it be a chance for revenge against the Bruins. With the Bruins third consecutive loss in round robin play, the Hurricanes were paired with the Boston Bruins. I have already written a bit about the match up: –For Monday’s Daily Cup of Joe I asked which Bruins team the Hurricanes should expect between the 2019 playoff team that swept the Canes, the 2019-20 regular season Bruins that was the NHL’s best in the standings or the 2020 round robin Bruins that has struggled to re-find the ignition switch. You can find that article HERE. –I also did a reasonably deep dive on the primary story lines from the 2019 playoff meeting and the possible carry forwards from that series. That is HERE. My watch points for the series opener on Tuesday follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Boston Bruins 1) Ready? I think the most intriguing thing to watch in the first game of the series is the readiness of both teams. Though other factors certainly played a role too, the Hurricanes seemed to fail to restart for the Bruins series in the 2019 playoffs after a long layoff. The Hurricanes will be playing a full week since finishing off the Rangers last Tuesday. But more significant is the Bruins side of the ledger. The Bruins were lackluster in going 0-3 in...
‘What I’m watching’ — 2020 Playoffs — Gm3 @NYR: Aiming for cruise control

‘What I’m watching’ — 2020 Playoffs — Gm3 @NYR: Aiming for cruise control

After consecutive wins to start the qualification playoff round series against the New York Rangers, the Carolina Hurricanes take aim at a quick three wins in four days for a sweep. The trajectory of the series suggests that the Rangers could head quietly into the off- season on Tuesday night. But while I do think the Hurricanes, when playing well, are the better team, a quick look at the regular season season provides a quick reminder of how small the margin for error is. If the Hurricanes show up expecting to coast, I would expect a disappointing setback on Tuesday. And though the Hurricanes won handily on Monday, I actually think there were stretches during which the Hurricanes let off the gas a bit. My watch points for Tuesday’s game follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the New York Rangers 1) Continued commitment More than anything else, I think Tuesday’s game is about not taking a deep breath to pause but rather keeping the pedal down. If the Hurricanes let up, the Rangers very likely run by them and climb back into the series. Between game 1 which I think was very close to peak Hurricanes forecheck and Tuesday which was much more intermittent, there was a drop off. So on Tuesday, I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes can again dial it up.   2) The road match up Obviously the situation is no different in terms of location inside the bubble, but the switch to being a home game for the Rangers does give them the ability to dictate match ups...