Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers quick hitters for why/how every Canes player matters for playoff success.
It is nearly impossible to go deep in the NHL playoffs without good/hot goaltending. Mrazek figures to be first man up to supply that for the Canes. In addition, when Mrazek is going well, his mojo and confidence are contagious and capable of helping boost the entire team.
Games two and three in the first-round are back-to-back. I would not be surprised to see Reimer play one of those two games. In addition, with the uncertainty of trying jump quickly from a four-month layoff into playoff hockey, there is a significant chance that Mrazek (like any player) has trouble finding his game immediately.
More often than not, playoff series wins are driven by which team’s best players are better in a series. Aho will lead the Canes first line. How they fare could well be how the team in total fares.
Aho and Teravainen have chemistry and are smart players. If Svechnikov can click with that duo, the potential is there for the trio to be a scoring juggernaut caliber of line capable of lifting the entire team.
Though maybe a bit more understated than Aho and Svechnikov, Teravainen’s solid two-way play could be critical to helping Aho’s line do more than just try to outgun the other teams’ best.
Staal’s role at this point in the season is to be miserable to play against for other teams’ best lines when Brind’Amour can dictate match ups. Especially during the front part of the 2019-20, Staal was not as dominant in his normal shutdown role. The Canes are a different team if he can find his ceiling again in that role.
Despite a list of bigger stars in the Canes locker room, Warren Foegele more than anyone was the player who used the playoff energy to find a significantly higher gear and lift the entire team. When games three and four (which the Canes needed to win after dropping the first two games) were being decided, Foegele was the player who stood out as a leader and driver. A team needs a spark plug like that in the playoffs.
In addition to being a darn good player, Williams serves as a energy and attitude adjuster helping the team stay grounded when winning and maybe more significantly convert disappointment into resolve and determination not meekness.
Especially with Brett Pesce, out Slavin must provide as many minutes as needed of sound, steady play. The Canes lineup will likely have a few defensemen in the lineup whose strength is not shutdown defense. When the game is on the line in a close game, Brind’Amour needs to know that Slavin’s pairing can be counted on.
Hamilton needs to find something close to the gear he played at during the regular season. If he does, the Canes have a bona fide top defense pairing and another source of offense. If instead Hamilton struggles a bit like in the 2019 NHL Playoffs, the Hurricanes could have trouble building a sound enough blue line to do more than run and gun.
In the next few days, I will offer a part two that includes the rest of the Canes regulars.
What say you Canes?
1) Of this group of 10 players, which one do you think is most critical to the team’s playoff success and why?
2) Which player(s) from this group do you see as excelling in the 2020 NHL Playoffs?