Rd2 Gm7 Vs. NYR: Familiar flaws dig early hole and Canes break couple good streaks losing 6-2 to the Rangers

Rd2 Gm7 Vs. NYR: Familiar flaws dig early hole and Canes break couple good streaks losing 6-2 to the Rangers

Like everyone else, I am spent after a disappointing ending to the 2021-22 Carolina Hurricanes hockey series. And writing a ‘blah’ game recap seems poorly-timed right now in addition to being no fun. Within the next few days, I will write up some more detailed thoughts on the season, but right now is just a few random thoughts… First, I think that losing in the second round rates ‘disappointing’ at best. That in itself says a lot about how far the Canes have come in four years since the ownership change and Rod Brind’Amour assuming head coaching duties. With four consecutive playoff appearances, the players and fans obviously wanted more. But those with a bit longer memory know that entering the season with the expectation that the team will enter the playoffs and achieving that four years in a row is a massive step up from the decade of struggles. tldr…This team is in a much better place than it was only a few years ago. Though a key reason for the Canes struggles in both playoff series was the sub-par performance part-time (mostly on the road) or even full-time for a few of the key players offensively, I still like the young core of the team. The talent and skill is there and the players like Aho, Svechnikov, Jarvis and Teravainen at forward play the game the right way, work hard and are coachable. Getting stuck at about this point before eventually pushing over the hump is not uncommon. Some forget that the Lightning were swept in the first round after winning the President’s Trophy by a wide...
Rd2 Gm6 @NYR: Raanta and 3rd D pairing struggles doom Canes in 5-2 loss and set up another game 7

Rd2 Gm6 @NYR: Raanta and 3rd D pairing struggles doom Canes in 5-2 loss and set up another game 7

Though the goal totals were high in a couple of the other road losses, Raanta has actually been decent or better in the Canes road losses leading up to game 6. That was not the case on Saturday night, and he was gone early in the second period because of it. With the Canes mostly carrying play and with an 8 to 2 shots on goal advantage, Raanta had a seemingly harmless shot from a ways out go right through him to stake the Rangers to a 1-0 lead. Then shortly thereafter, he got worked like a rookie by Mika Zibanejad for another goal right through the five hold. Off the rush, Zibanejad paused and kept carrying past the point where it made most sense to take a shot for a decent shooting angle. Then right when Raanta seemed to give up on the shot and start getting ready to push off the post to meet Zibanejad on the other side after he circled the net, Zibanejad instead surprised Raanta with a shot that went right through him. Then he was beaten short side off the rush. Raanta has been incredibly good and pretty consistent even on the road thus far. I would come right back to him with confidence and without hesitation for game 7. Hidden behind Raanta’s struggles was a possibly even more brutal night for the third defense pairing of Brendan Smith and Ian Cole. The second Rangers goal came on a power play opportunity created when Brendan Smith took an offensive zone penalty. The second Rangers goal came when Smith and Cole gave up not...
Rd2 Gm5 Vs. NYR: Canes continue road mastery with 3-1 win over Rangers and push series to potential elimination game

Rd2 Gm5 Vs. NYR: Canes continue road mastery with 3-1 win over Rangers and push series to potential elimination game

The home versus road roller coaster continued for the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night back at PNC Arena in Raleigh. As much as the two losses in New York suggested that the Canes have issues playing away from home, Thursday reinforced the fact that the opposite is true at home. The Hurricanes started the game playing even or better in terms of puck possession and offensive zone time. But an unnecessary offensive zone penalty by Andrei Svechnikov nearly midway through the first period had the potential to derail a good start. But after a strong penalty kill, things got even better in the waning seconds of the penalty kill when Jordan Staal and Vincent Trocheck hopped out to a 2-on-1 rush while shorthanded. Staal fed Trocheck who skillfully managed to finish a pass on a bounce to give the Canes a 1-0 lead. But another unnecessary penalty by Ian Cole in the neutral zone gave the Rangers a second chance on the power play. (No doubt Trouba flopped dramatically, but Cole offering even a small crosscheck took an unnecessary risk that cost the Canes.) Shortly into the power play Mika Zibanejad ripped a shot by Raanta to tie the game at 1-1. The Canes maybe deserved better in the first period, but Shesterkin made a couple great saves and the special teams deficit evened the game. But the Canes level of play ramped as the game went on. The second period was easily one of the team’s best of the playoffs. The Canes netted only a single goal on a Teuvo Teravainen power play snipe on a Seth Jarvis...
Rd2 Gm4 @NYR: Canes drubbed 4-1 by Rangers in fifth straight playoff road loss

Rd2 Gm4 @NYR: Canes drubbed 4-1 by Rangers in fifth straight playoff road loss

Whereas Sunday’s loss had a decent number of redeeming qualities and even a reasonable case that the Canes deserved a win, that was not so much the case on Tuesday. The Rangers were the better team from the outset, and deservedly, the Canes were never really in the game once the Rangers got going. The Canes took two penalties in the first period. The first sapped any possible early momentum as the Canes penalty killers were under siege for the entirety of two minutes trapped in their own end. They survived that first power play against, but the hockey gods stepped in on the second Rangers power play that yielded another pass right through the seam and a quick snipe for a goal. The first period in general had pace both ways just like Sunday’s game, but the Rangers had the better of the higher quality chances against a Canes team that can be pushed too easily to the perimeter of late. When Adam Fox scored on a deflection late in the first period, the Rangers were officially off to the races with a 2-0 lead that would hold until the first intermission. The Canes pushed a bit in the second period, but the combination of not generating many high-end chances and Shesterkin being on top of his game held the Canes scoreless until Mika Zibanejad managed to find a hole through Raanta on a blast off the rush to make it 3-0. The Canes did finally crack the scoreboard early in the third period on a pretty pass in front to Teuvo Teravainen who finished. But the Canes...
Rd2 Gm3 @NYR: Canes road playoff woes continue in 3-1 loss to the Rangers

Rd2 Gm3 @NYR: Canes road playoff woes continue in 3-1 loss to the Rangers

Though the result was the same and some of the road issues reappeared, the Canes 3-1 loss on Sunday was enough different from the game 3 loss to the Bruins to inspire hope. More on that below. First from a half-empty perspective, the Canes did lose game 3 on the road and familiar issues reappeared. The Canes lost the special teams battle by a goal. After actually being better at times in the past couple games without much for results, the Canes power play mostly struggled on Sunday with the worst being the most important chance with six minutes remaining and down a goal. The silver lining was the Canes first power play that saw Svechnikov miss just off the outside of the post and then also feed Nino Niederreiter in front for a grade A deflection chance. But different from the Boston struggles, the Canes gave up only three power play chances which is reasonable. Also like the road struggles in Boston, much of it stemmed from the change in match ups. In Boston Marchand/Bergeron/Pastrnak exploded for 16 points in the first two games in Boston in the first round. On Sunday, the outburst was more controlled but still the difference. Mika Zibanejad was the best player on the ice and easily could have had four or five points. He finished with only two but also set up at least three other good scoring chances. Fellow first-liner Chris Kreider scored the other goal (not counting the empty-netter). Also like in Boston, Aho’s line which spent much of the game playing against Zibanejad was held to nothing on the...
Rd2 Gm2 Vs. NYR: Canes stymie Rangers and claim narrow 2-0 win to increase series lead to 2-0

Rd2 Gm2 Vs. NYR: Canes stymie Rangers and claim narrow 2-0 win to increase series lead to 2-0

Led primarily by offense from the third defense pairing, the Carolina Hurricanes seized a 2-0 series lead over the New York Rangers after the first pair of games on home ice. Had a made a list of the top 500 story lines coming out of game 2, this would not have made the cut. And that unpredictability is part of what makes playoff hockey intriguing and (when your team is winning) fun. The game actually played out somewhat similar to the first game. The Canes against struggled with puck management in the first period, and it came very close to costing them on multiple occasions. Though the Canes outshot the Rangers 8 to 5, the Rangers had the better of the dangerous chances or near chances. In desperation mode on a couple occasions, the Canes had key blocked shots to keep the puck out of their net and finished the first period with 11 total blocked shots. Also a bit like the game 1 win, the Canes were somewhat better but still not really dominant in the second period. A tight-checking, low offensive event second period seemed to take a turn for the worse when Brady Skjei took a double minor for high-sticking. The Canes killed off the front part of the Rangers power play and then did even better when Sebastian Aho capitalized when a Rangers defender played a shorthanded rush like a 2-on-2 when in fact Brendan Smith was behind the second Rangers defender. Smith received the pass and deftly finished in along to take a 1-0 lead and seize momentum. The Canes had a chance to...