2020 NHL Playoffs — Gm5 @Bos: Canes respond after game 4 debacle but fall 2-1 to end series

2020 NHL Playoffs — Gm5 @Bos: Canes respond after game 4 debacle but fall 2-1 to end series

With probably four or more months until Carolina Hurricanes hockey returns to the ice, there will be plenty of time in the coming days to consider the playoffs, the Boston series and the 2019-20 season in total. So I am going to save that and focus this post narrowly on game 5.   The lead in The entry point to game 5 was not a good one for the Carolina Hurricanes. After not playing their best but still being very much in each of the first three games, game 4 took a nasty turn for the worse. After entering the third period with a 2-0 lead, the team imploded via a series of errors and managed to go from up two goals to down two goals in a span of 15 minutes of hockey. Shortly after the game, I called the loss possibly the most disheartening loss of the Rod Brind’Amour coaching era. Without a bounce back win in game 5, I think possibly can be removed. So that made for an interesting and dramatic backdrop entering game 5. Would the team respond? Would they go meekly into the off-season? Who, if anyone, would rise up in the face of adversity? Etc. In that regard, I think the Hurricanes responded admirably on Wednesday night. No doubt, there was room for improvement in terms of level of play, but by no means did the team mail it in or play a timid and defeated brand of hockey. The effort and response was there which despite the result does make a meaningful statement about the team’s character.   The results Though...
2020 NHL Playoffs — Gm4 Vs. Bos: Canes implode in third period for 4-3 loss to the Bruins

2020 NHL Playoffs — Gm4 Vs. Bos: Canes implode in third period for 4-3 loss to the Bruins

The Carolina Hurricanes entered the Monday match up against the Boston Bruins desperately needing a win to pull back to 2-2 in the series and assure a long series of at least six games. And through two periods, the Hurricanes had exactly that in hand. By no means were the Hurricanes dominant, but courtesy of at least even play and some opportunistic scoring, the Hurricanes entered the third period with a 2-0 lead.   The unraveling Then it happened. The Hurricanes completely unraveled and imploded. The result was a third period full of mistakes that looked like men against boys. In the span of 15 minutes, the Hurricanes went from being up 2-0 to being down 4-2. The series of events was a rapid-fire series of Bruins dominance and Hurricanes missteps. It all started when with a 2-0 lead James Reimer ventured too far out of net to try to play a puck before an onrushing Bruin who had gotten behind Haydn Fleury. When Reimer failed to win the race, the result was a costly mistake and a quick goal for the Bruins to let them back into the game at 2-1. Though the itself was different, the situation was very similar to Saturday’s game when Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak made a gaffe to give the Hurricanes a goal to get back into the game down only 2-1. But whereas the Bruins responded by being stronger on the puck and more assertive advancing it out of danger, the Hurricanes seemed to crumble instantly under the weight of the single error. The result was dumpster fire of hockey. The Bruins...
2020 NHL Playoffs — Gm3 Vs. Bos: Canes struggle to find higher gear in 3-1 loss to the Bruins

2020 NHL Playoffs — Gm3 Vs. Bos: Canes struggle to find higher gear in 3-1 loss to the Bruins

I was tied up most of the day after the Canes game on Saturday, so I did not post my usual game recap and notes. Since this is a bit belated now, I will skip the recap and will instead look at Saturday’s loss mostly in terms of broad themes for the game.   Game 2 themes And odd tale of two different games Probably forgotten by some after having to watch the latter two periods, the Hurricanes actually started well and had a strong first period. The first power play early in the period featured a shooting gallery with a few decent chances with the best being Teuvo Teravainen narrowly missing off the post. So after finding that higher gear for the latter half of games two, the Hurricanes were able to dial it up again to start game three. But that pace and intensity level that gave the Hurricanes the upper hand in the first period seemed to evaporate instantly and never return in the latter two periods.   Special teams as the difference As noted above, the Hurricanes first power play was actually a very good one despite not scoring. But that unfortunately was not a sign of things to come. The Hurricanes mostly struggled mightily on the power play. There were stretches when the Canes were unable to even gain clean entry to the offensive zone with possession. And then even when set up, the power play just looked lackluster in terms of puck movement that was anything other than slow and predictable. Giving credit where it is due, the Bruins are very good at...
2020 NHL Playoffs — Gm2 @Bos: Canes find frenetic on dial and ride it to wild 3-2 win

2020 NHL Playoffs — Gm2 @Bos: Canes find frenetic on dial and ride it to wild 3-2 win

After a tough 4-3 double overtime loss to start the series after an odd reschedule/delay, the Hurricanes were right back on the ice a day later seeking a win to even the series. The game did not start particularly well. Play was disjointed for the Hurricanes and also somewhat for the Bruins. At times, the game looked like ping pong with each team taking turns retrieving pucks in its own end, advancing to the neutral zone and then pitching it forward to be retrieved by the other team. In general, the first period was fairly buttoned down both ways. But the Bruins capitalized on a late power play and exited the period up 1-0. The front part of the second period was more of the game. Along the way, the Hurricanes encountered more adversity and just bizarreness from the officiating. Jordan Staal had his helmet ripped off without a call. And my absolute favorite play so far in this regard was Andrei Svechnikov getting elbowed in the head by Charlie McAvoy and then retaliating by boarding him in the corner. Somehow the referees missed not one but both of the dangerous penalties but send Zdeno Chara and Andrei Svechnikov to the box for roughing after the more serious infractions were missed. After another ‘meh’ start, the Hurricanes seemed to find a higher gear about midway through the second period. It was not even so much that the Canes were better or had a significant advantage as a switch seemed to flip the game in total into random/frenetic mode. The shift seemed to benefit the Hurricanes who scored twice in...
2020 NHL Playoffs — Gm1 @Bos: Sleeping Bruins awake and beat Canes 4-3 in a second overtime

2020 NHL Playoffs — Gm1 @Bos: Sleeping Bruins awake and beat Canes 4-3 in a second overtime

Based on the Canes quick 3-0 sweep of the Rangers and the Bruins plodding 0-3 mark in the bye team round robin, the ‘expert’ predictions prior to this series took a bizarre turn such that the Hurricanes seemed suddenly to be the favorites against a team that swept them 4-0 last season and was the President’s Trophy winner and probably the best team in NHL entering the bubble. I was not having the abrupt shift based on three round robin games: I do think @Canes have good chance to win series versus @NHLBruins, and I also think it will be a long series. But even with Canes bias, I do not get Bruins suddenly being underdogs. Experts are greatly overweighting 3 round robin games over President's Trophy regular season. — Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) August 11, 2020 Though I was skeptical, there was at least a glimmer of hope that just maybe the Boston Bruins would never re-find the higher gear needed to win in the playoffs. Out of the gate, that was a possibility. Both teams looked sloppy and a bit out of sorts maybe with the odd 11am start. But by the midway point of the game, the Bruins had proven that they were capable of much more than their ‘meh’ round robin level of play, and the series was probably back to where it started with the Bruins being one of the Stanley Cup favorites and the Hurricanes being a good young team capable of beating them, but very clearly still trying to earn their way up to that next level.   Game recap As noted...
2020 NHL Playoffs — Gm3 @NYR: James Reimer leads Canes to win and series sweep

2020 NHL Playoffs — Gm3 @NYR: James Reimer leads Canes to win and series sweep

Entering with a 2-0 lead in the series, one had to figure that the New York Rangers would muster a push in game three. And that is exactly what happened.   Recap of the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 win over the New York Rangers Whereas the Hurricanes were the more aggressive team by a wide margin in game one (and to a slightly lesser extent in game two), the Rangers very clearly had the upper hand early in Tuesday’s game. Only 3:33 into the game, Sami Vatanen was caught flat footed, beaten and then took a penalty. And just in general, the Hurricanes spent much of the period under duress. Fortunately for them, the best player on the ice in the first period and probably the second period too was James Reimer. The early Rangers power play for him involved early, and he never missed a beat making save after save to keep the Hurricanes in the game. The first period ended with the Rangers mounting a 14 to 6 shot advantage but a 0-0 tally on the scoreboard. But maybe being paid late for a strong first period, the Rangers scored only 12 seconds into the second period when a quick up from the defensive blue line found Jaccob Slavin out of position maybe watching the wrong player. Vatanen did not have the giddy up to help across fast enough, Chris Kreider marched in and finished mostly alone. The Hurricanes would counter pretty quickly when Andrei Svechnikov fed Teuvo Teravainen streaking to between the circles for a pretty backhand finish. From that point forward, the rest of the second...