Will run this top part for just a couple days, so just skip below the ——– if you have already seen it.
Thank you and request for help
First, I would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who spent part of the 2018-19 Carolina Hurricanes hockey time at Canes and Coffee and a special thank you to the regular patrons of the Coffee Shop whose opinions, insight and friendly debate have become the best part of Canes and Coffee. Also, for those newer Canes fans who joined because of the contagious fun during the 2018-19 season, I am thrilled to see our Hurricanes hockey community growing again.
If you appreciated Canes and Coffee’s daily Canes coverage during the 2018-19 season, please consider a small ‘cup of coffee’ size contribution to help fund our operations. We run on a lean budget, but it still is not free to keep the site up. The hope is to do another round of required and possibly some extra maintenance during the off-season, so contributions are appreciated in either of two ways.
In addition, we just started a relationship with Fanatics. Canes and Coffee will receive a portion of purchases made through our links.
Summer plans for Canes and Coffee
With the short gap (Hooray! Finally!!) between the end of the season and start of the off-season festivities including the draft, prospect camp and free agency, the tentative plan is to continue with daily Canes coverage through the front part of the summer and possibly take a short break during the back half of the summer.
In addition to the regular Daily Cup of Joe articles, the hope is to restart The Coffee Shop posts with reader polls and conversation questions most, if not all, Mondays starting next week.
Yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe looked at carry forwards from the 2018-19 season and 2019 playoffs. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe continues on a somewhat similar path in considering upshots from the 2019 NHL Playoffs from various angles.
1) The core system and formula can work
When I consider everything from the playoffs and try to boil it down to the most important takeaways, one of the things that jumps to the top of the list is the effectiveness of the Hurricanes forecheck for giving good teams fits (at least at times) and also generating offense. I would argue that the Hurricanes lineup was a bit undermanned in terms of raw scoring talent. That situation was exacerbated by injuries, a struggling power play and the fact that the team’s top offensive players contributed but were never really dynamic or dominant. Yet through two series against good hockey teams, the Hurricanes were able to fuel a decent offense largely with what the forecheck could generate for possession time and scoring chances. The fact that Brind’Amour’s brand of hockey and system could be effectively offensively against good teams under the brightest of lights in the playoffs is encouraging.
2) But the lineup could use a bit more fire power
The other side of the coin from #1 is the fact that when the Bruins were able to defeat or at least neutralize the Hurricanes forecheck, there really was not much for offense behind it. As noted above, leading scorers Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen were right in the middle for me. Aho led the team in points, and Teravainen led the team in goals, so it is not at all that the duo was invisible. They definitely contributed to the team’s success. But at no point were they really dominant in such a way that they were going to carry the team to a win like Ovechkin/Backstrom did in a couple games and like Bergeron and company did as well. But more significant than Aho and Teravainen potentially having one higher gear in the playoffs in the future could be the fact that the Hurricanes are still 1-2 skilled scorers short lineup-wise. Especially after injuries kicked in, the Hurricanes seemed to be icing two fourth lines and also two top lines that maybe were also a player or two short offensively.
So it might sound odd, but I exited the playoffs both encouraged by the overall effectiveness of Brind’Amour’s system offensively lafter having some doubts entering the playoffs. But at the same time, I head into the off-season thinking that the Hurricanes really need 1-2 more difference-makers offensively to reach a higher level.
3) The blue line has become the strength envisioned a couple years back
Another thing that stood out from the playoffs was that the blue line has truly emerged as the strength it was hoped to become a few years back. By no means was the group perfect but at a physical level, they faced tough tests and were not overmatched physically or in terms of being able to match pace and handle pressure. A subtle but significant thing that jumped out at me during the playoffs was how well having a mobile blue line complemented the aggressive forechecking system. When the team was at its best, the forwards forced opponents to chuck pucks to random places to relieve pressure. Inside the offensive zone, the Hurricanes blue liners were on their toes and quick to pinch to keep pucks in the offensive zone. In the neutral zone, the blue liners had the courage to step up and take away space in the middle of the rink and were also quick to retrieve and quickly move pucks back into the offensive zone. And when teams did manage to defeat the forecheck, the blue line generally held its own defending in the defensive zone.
There are obviously many other factors to consider, but I think the foundation of this team as established by Rod Brind’Amour is a hard-charging forechecking style that is good enough to disrupt even good teams that know that it is coming coupled with a blue line that is solid from top to bottom and can similarly play a style that is on its toes and forward. Finally as noted in the middle, I do think the Hurricanes need to add another offensive difference-maker or two either externally or from another young player or two rising up to a high level.
What say you Canes fans?
1) If you had to boil the positives of the playoffs down into one to three things, what would they be?
2) From the playoffs, what one or two areas offer the greatest room for improvement going forward?