Happy New Year Caniac Nation!
With 2019 officially in the books, today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers an informal collection of the greatest Canes moments from 2019.
My post offers five with a playoff theme.
Who can help with five more from the second half of the 2018-19 regular season and the first half of the 2019-20 regular season?
The NHL playoffs return to Raleigh
After a decade without NHL playoffs, I put two events at the very top of my list of 2019 favorites pretty much in a dead heat.
1) The Canes clinch a playoff berth
First, was the game when the Canes clinched a playoff spot. At that point, the 2018-19 season was a success and a long awaited reward for those who endured all or even just some of the ten-year playoff drought. The event could not have been choreographed any better had it been part of a movie. First it happened on home ice, but even cooler and perfectly timed was the realization that Montreal had lost to make it official when the players were still on the ice celebrating the win. I will forever remember the chain reaction of players figuring it out. Top it all off with Petr Mrazek’s post-game interview and his famous “We’re in!” and that night will forever be up for consideration whenever someone makes a ‘best of’ list for the Carolina Hurricanes.
2) Playoff hockey returns to Raleigh
After nine seasons of quietly and mostly disappointingly leaving PNC Arena for the last time in early April, game three finally brought a return of playoff hockey to Raleigh. And what a return it was. My modest minimum hope entering the playoffs was that Caniacs new and old would witness at least one home win and all of the greatness and glory that comes with that. Down two games to none after the trip to DC, if the Canes wanted that win to be more than a consolation price, it needed to come in game three. And the event, the crowd and the players did not disappoint. The building was rocking early and only got louder with each successive goal, and the Warren Foegle-led Hurricanes made a statement with a rousing 5-0 win. Playoff hockey at the Raleigh Entertainment & Sports Arena….errr…RBC Center…errr…PNC Arena was everything fans either remembered or imagined that it could be.
But wait there’s more…
Just making the playoffs and winning a single home playoff game would have been a wonderful ending to a great 2018-19 season and offered enough of a taste of hockey goodness to prompt thankfulness for the season that was. But the Hurricanes took it many steps further.
3) Canes force game 7 with home win that ends with Alexander Ovechkin tirade
After a 6-0 thrashing by the Capitals in game 5 in Washington, D.C., the Hurricanes returned home for game 6 facing elimination. Would the Hurricanes fade after an admirable push to make it a series? Or would they stay perfect on home ice and force a game 7? With a surge of four straight goals after being down 2-1 after the first period including three in the third period, the Hurricanes again defended home ice magnanimously with a 5-2. The final moments featured Alexander Ovechkin losing it as rookie Saku Maenalanen just skated with Ovechkin and just stared him down as he launched into his temper tantrum.
4) Brock McGinn becomes a Hurricanes legend
The game 6 win set the stage for a winner takes all game 7 significantly in DC in a series where the home team was 6-0 entering the finale. After falling behind 2-0, the Hurricanes rallied back to force overtime. From the opening face-off of the first overtime, the Hurricanes were by far the better team. Be it young legs, conditioning or just rising to the moment, the Hurricanes were fresher and faster by a wide margin. But in a format where a single lucky bounce can decide the game, dominance does not guarantee victory. The first overtime yielded nothing except another intermission and more suspense. But when Justin Williams found Brock McGinn in front of the net, the Hurricanes shocked the world with an exhilarating and improbable series win for the ages. Combined with sweeping a sure goal out of the crease earlier, McGinn’s game-winning tally immediately ranked with Eric Staal’s and Scotty Walker’s game 7 road game-winners in the 2009 NHL Playoffs. And with that, Brock McGinn claimed a permanent place in Hurricanes history.
After a long and arduous first-round series win against the Capitals, the Canes made quicker work of the New York Islanders in the second round. The first two games in New York were tight-checking, even affairs, but the hockey gods smiled down on the upstart Hurricanes who managed to take both games for a commanding 2-0 series lead. With Curtis McElhinney stepping into the crease to replace an injured Petr Mrazek without the team missing a beat, the Canes stormed to a 5-2 win in game 3 and the same result in game 4. The series win was the first playoff series-winning handshake line in Raleigh for the Hurricanes for that fateful day in
What say you Canes fans?
Who can help round out a top 10 list for 2019 with regular season games/moments from the 2019 part of both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons?