Chronological Blog List

Canes off-season big decision #3 — The forwards

Wednesday’s Daily Cup of Joe had the goalie position as the Canes big off-season decision #1. Yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe had the blue line as the Canes big off-season decision #2. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe continues on the same path in looking at the Canes big off-season decision #3 considering the forward group.   Assessing the group Across the three positions, I would say that the forward group is where the Hurricanes were still most a work in progress during the 2018-19 season. That is not in a negative way. Strides were made during the 2018-19 season, and the prospect pool at forward is promising. Further, Andrei Svechnikov and Warren Foegele held down NHL roster spots as rookies. Sebastian Aho’s move to center was a success. And Brind’Amour’s forechecking system demonstrated the ability to generate offense with intensity in both the regular season and playoffs. But in total, I think the group is still a player or two short in terms of raw offensive fire power and enters at least the third consecutive off-season ideally needing an offensive catalyst type center for a second scoring line. My sorting breaks the Hurricanes forward group down into three categories. First are three players (Aho, Teravainen, Svechnikov) who slot on first or second scoring lines noting that Svechnikov is still growing into this role especially away from the puck. Then the Hurricanes have three players (Staal, Williams, Niederreiter) who are capable complementary players on a first or second line. Ferland would also slot here if re-signed. And Staal in an ideal world is a 2B center who leads a checking...

Canes off-season big decision #2 — The blue line

Yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe had the goalie position as the Canes big off-season decision #1. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe turns to the blue line for Canes big off-season decision #2. After a couple years with the blue line projected to become a top strength but not quite getting there, a fairly significant shake up last summer finally yielded the desired results. Out was Noah Hanifin, and in were Dougie Hamilton and Calvin de Haan. The result was a blue line that was strong at the top but also balanced. Justin Faulk played at a higher level out of the gate paired with Calvin de Haan. Jaccob Slavin paired with the other newcomer Dougie Hamilton. And Brett Pesce and Trevor van Riemsdyk stocked arguably the most talented third pairing (if you wanted to call it that) in the entire NHL. The slotting and volume of ice time varied a bit as the season wore on, but the Hurricanes blue line was a strength throughout the regular season and also the playoffs.   Simplest would be to leave it alone With all of the Hurricanes defensemen under contract for the 2019-20 season, the simplest thing to do this summer would be to just leave things alone and to count on the same blue line leading the way again next season. That could happen, but a couple factors could push the team to make changes from this position of strength.   Contract and salary situations With the addition of de Haan and Hamilton last summer, the Hurricanes had five defensemen on the 2018-19 roster who were earning top 4 type...

Canes off-season big decision #1 — The goalie position

The the abrupt end to the 2018-19 season last Thursday, and locker room clean out day on Monday, the Carolina Hurricanes have officially ventured into the off-season. I started down the road of writing a higher-level article detailing the big decisions for the Hurricanes this off-season (that will follow soon too) but instead am going to do a deeper dive on the goalie situation for next year.   Contract situations The only goalie that the Hurricanes have signed for the 2019-20 season is Scott Darling who ironically is the one goalie all but certain not to return. Darling will most certainly be bought out to end that struggle of a relationship. The other certainty is that Alex Nedeljkovic will be re-signed and with the organization but it unclear where he will play next season. Finally, Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney are both scheduled to become unrestricted free agents come July 1. Mrazek is likely to command a significant raise over the $1.5 million that he earned for the 2018-19 season. McElhinney should be in demand as a backup and also should net a raise but more as a higher-end backup. The best bet is that the Hurricanes re-sign Mrazek and give Nedeljkovic his first extended opportunity at the NHL as a backup initially. But that depends on contract negotiations with Mrazek. Even coupled with a Darling buyout, that keeps the salary commitment to the goalie position reasonable. Adding to the range of possibilities, there are a decent number of goalies heading into free agency this summer.   A burning question to start Is it possible that the biggest change...

Carolina Hurricanes upshots from the 2019 NHL playoffs

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. Donations HERE In addition, we just started a relationship with Fanatics. Canes and Coffee will receive a portion of purchases made through our links. Shop Fanatics HERE   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...

Carry forwards from 2018-19 stretch run and playoffs

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. Donations HERE In addition, we just started a relationship with Fanatics. Canes and Coffee will receive a portion of purchases made through our links. Shop Fanatics HERE   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...

A bigger “We”

From growing up a die-hard sports fan from a very young age, I have been a fan of a number of professional and major college sports teams in a variety of ways. When a person invests a reasonable amount of time an energy into a team, it becomes theirs, and a fan to some degree feels like he/she is part of it. At its core, I really think that is what is at the core of human’s love of sports — the chance to be part of something first and then on top of that to be part of something special. That is why fans regularly use the word “We” to talk about their teams. So when I adopted the Carolina Hurricanes as “my local team” in 1997 after they magically fell out of the sky and into North Carolina, I had a variety of reference points for what it means and/or feels like to be part of a professional sports fan base or community. The Carolina Hurricanes were different from the very beginning. The group that ushered NHL hockey into North Carolina was refreshing and like nothing I had ever experienced before. From my years as a Chicago sports fan growing up there was a natural gap and separation between the team/players and me as part of the fan base. In my years growing up, my interactions with anyone from my favorite teams was a small handful of times my dad took me to wait in line to get an autograph from a single player or two, not one of the stars, who was doing an event somewhere....

ECF Gm4 Vs. Bos: Canes magical season ends in 4-0 loss to the Bruins

Our Carolina Hurricanes hockey community On Thursday night the Carolina Hurricanes absolutely magical 2018-19 season came to an end in a 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins. Short of actually winning the Stanley Cup, I really do not think that the Hurricanes hockey community could have asked for more. Fans experienced every bit of exhilarating, dominating, tense and whatever else one could pack into a deep playoff run. Certainly the ending is disappointing, but that is more about having to let go of something so good than the actual series loss. And yet again our hockey community showed that the relationship between the team and the fan base in Raleigh, North Carolina is truly something unique. You cannot tell me that a fan base in Boston or pretty much anywhere else for that matter would have cheered the team passionately in the finally minute and a half of a 4-0 loss in a series sweep. And that is yet another instance of the Hurricanes hockey community being unique and special. As Canes fans know too painfully, there are no guarantees that success in one season carries over to the next, but there is significant reason to believe that this is only the beginning. The team was the youngest in the 2018-19 playoffs and significantly that youth is in the core players and future leaders of this team. Though they did not get all the way there, this group now knows pretty much what it takes to win a Stanley Cup. As long as they do not trade the hard work and effort that was the foundation of the 2018-19...

‘What I’m watching’ — ECF Gm4 Vs. Bos: Facing elimination, Canes try to say “Not today” to Bruins

Facing elimination, the Carolina Hurricanes return to the ice at PNC Arena for game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Bruins. The long odds of winning four straight games in the NHL playoffs to pull out a stunning series win are well-documented and a legitimate long shot. But I really think the impossibility of winning only game 4 is overstated. The Hurricanes rebounded and generally played the better game on Tuesday. Only some perfect storm of power play ineptitude, missing open nets, Tuukka Rask magic and a couple bizarre lucky saves kept the Hurricanes from winning game 3 and climbing back into the series. Would’ve’s and could’ve’s obviously count for nothing this time of year, but I actually think that if the Hurricanes bring the exact same game as Tuesday the odds of winning are greater than 50 percent just needed to catch any kind of puck luck. At a basic level, there are two keys to winning on Thursday and extending the season for another game. First, the Hurricanes must show the fortitude to bring the same level of effort and intensity as Tuesday, and that must hold even if they face either an early setback or again are not rewarded for dominating play. Second, the Hurricanes need to play a focused and cleaner game. The margin for error in this series has been tiny and one of the Hurricanes’ Achilles’ heels has been too many costly errors. Penalty issues and a special teams again reared their head in Tuesday’s loss, and the penalties taken were largely of the unnecessary variety. If the Hurricanes bring...

The script for Thursday night

The task at hand for the Carolina Hurricanes is to win a single hockey game and then go from there. That ask is not that outlandish. The Hurricanes have been a great hockey team on home ice throughout the playoffs and the team’s first loss at PNC Arena on Tuesday was actually not that far off base on a night when the team arguably deserved better. So asking for and receiving a win on Thursday is well within the realm of possibilities. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe writes the script for that win.   Repeat of the start The start really needs to be no different than Tuesday’s. The Hurricanes had an 11-1 shots on goal advantage when Justin Williams and Torey Krug went off the ice with matching penalties, changed the flow of the game a bit and offered a small amount of relief for the Bruins. So in terms of intensity level, pace and just about everything else, the team is simply looking for a repeat of Tuesday without offering the Bruins breathing room by taking penalties.   …But with finishing The difference in Tuesday’s game was the fact that the Hurricanes were unable to convert pretty much a full period of sheer dominance into anything on the scoreboard. The Hurricanes simply missed the net multiple times with Teravainen’s miss 18 seconds in and Svechnikov’s back door miss being the most notable. Tuukka Rask, who was also incredibly good on a number of shots, was also flat out lucky on multiple occasions. Justin Williams nicked the cross bar. Rask had one shot through a screen that he...

Looking forward to game 4

Down 3-0 and battling a good hockey team and a goalie who is playing out of his mind, the Carolina Hurricanes obviously face long odds to win the series and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. Though it might not feel like it to Canes fans, there is a difference between “long odds” and “zero chance.” Interestingly, the 2014 Los Angeles Kings were the fourth team to come back from a 3-0 deficit. That team went on to win the Stanley Cup. A key player on that team was none other than Justin Williams. As I said on Twitter shortly after Tuesday’s loss: I know optimism is rightfully a near impossible sell right now, but if #Canes wanted to somehow write a script to top #allcaps series win, this would be the start. #TakeWarning — Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) May 15, 2019   What would it take? 1) Belief I think the biggest obstacle to winning a series after falling behind 3-0 is very simply mustering the belief across the entire roster that it will happen. Having lived it, the Hurricanes no doubt have a feeling for the trajectory of this series and the long odds. At the point where even a portion of the roster settles for what has already been accomplished with this season, the season officially ends. Brind’Amour, Williams, Staal, Faulk and whoever else is feeling positive energy has less than 48 hours to get every player to truly believe that a rebound and series win is possible.   2) Focusing on the next game The challenge of winning four straight games is daunting and intimidating....

ECF Gm3 Vs. Bos: Canes get nothing from dominant 1st period and ultimately fall 2-1 to Bruins

Quick hitters –I think the entire game hinged on the first period. The Canes were dominant but got nothing to show for it on the scoreboard. What stands out most was Teravainen being unable to hit half of an open net (puck was squibbling on way to him which made it tough shot) 30 seconds in and then the inability to score on the 4-on-3/5-on-3 sequence. –As much as I love Justin Williams and everything he has done for the team, I think he missed badly with his first period death wish for Torey Krug. The 4-on-4 sequence midway through the first period relieved pressure for Boston and the subsequent penalties created breaks to help them get their feet under them and survive the first period. –For as many times as the Hurricanes have pumped a bunch of low-quality shots and declared “hot goalie”, I think tonight was legitimate. Rask is in a surreal kind of groove where he makes a dozen great saves and then has luck to back that up. He somehow had a shot he did not see go straight into his glove and another go off his stick and into his glove somehow. I said before the series started that a path to victory would result if they cracked Rask. That has not happened so far. –Special teams was again arguably the difference. The Canes power play just seems to become slower and more predictable by the game. –Important to note is that in no way was Tuesday’s loss the result of lack of effort, heart or character. The effort was 100%. –As I said...

‘What I’m watching’ — ECF Gm3 Vs. Bos: Canes seek boost on home ice and a rebound versus Bruins

After consecutive losses in Boston to start the series and an especially rough 6-2 defeat on Sunday, the Hurricanes return home seeking a boost and a win to climb into the series. The game is as close to must-win as can be without being an elimination. The odds are incredibly long for teams down 3-0 in playoff series. But all is not lost. The long version is detailed in Today’s Daily Cup of Joe entitled, “Making the case for a Canes rebound.” The short version is that this team is 5-0 on home ice in the playoffs, has shown resiliency after past bad defeats and has already successfully navigated this road after being down 2-0 to the Capitals and emerging with a series win. More than anything, the Hurricanes just need a complete reset such that their game in total looks very little like what happened in Boston and much more like what happened in most of the games versus Washington. My more specific watch points for today’s critical game follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Boston Bruins 1) Pace, pressure and forecheck In these playoffs, the forecheck has been the catalyst for everything else. When the forecheck is effective everything else follows. The forecheck generates offensive zone possession time and a decent volume of scoring chances spread across the entire lineup. And the forecheck significantly decreases how much the team has to defend and how dangerous those chances are. Through two games, the Hurricanes forecheck has largely been ineffective except for a short burst in the second period of game 1. On the surface,...

Making the case for a Canes rebound

After consecutive losses in Boston to start off the Eastern Conference Finals, the Hurricanes return to Raleigh for what is as close as you can get to a must-win game that is not an elimination game. After the 6-2 drubbing on Sunday that offered virtually nothing to fuel optimism, one cannot blame Canes fans for feeling a bit negative on the current series. But I think the magnitude of the current down swing measured by mood overstates how dire the situation truly is. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe charts a course to a series rebound. Boston Bruins vs. Carolina Hurricanes Fanatics Branded 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals Matchup T-Shirt – Heather Gray Price: $27.99 Carolina Hurricanes Fanatics Branded 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs Bound Body Checking T-Shirt – Red Price: $27.99 Carolina Hurricanes Fanatics Authentic Framed 15" x 17" 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs Series Win vs. Washington Capitals Collage Price: $49.99     Acknowledging the need for improvement An important starting point is to acknowledge that the sheer magic of home ice is not by itself the solution. The Hurricanes do need to correct some issues and simply play better. The prioritized list in that regard follows: 1) The Hurricanes need to cut down on costly mistakes. The first goal on Sundaywas a soft one on Mrazek. The turning point in game 1 was a run of penalties and some basic coverage issues on the penalty kill. And in general the Hurricanes have gifted too much to the Bruins through two games. That must end. The Hurricanes need to play a cleaner game that forces the Bruins to...

Parallels of current situation to other series in Hurricanes history

As noted in my game recap, the Hurricanes current situation has many parallels to the Capitals series. In both series, the Canes lost the first two games to dig an early hole. But in the Capitals series, the Hurricanes rebounded and never looked back. In addition, the Hurricanes have experience rebounding from a lopsided loss. Against the Capitals, the Hurricanes lost 6-0 but rebounded in the next game to force a game 7. Taking a longer look back in Hurricanes history, the current series looks a bit like two other series.   Rebounding and overcoming a hot goalie I am on record from before this series as saying that a key to the series could be breaking Tuukka Rask. He continues to play incredibly well. The situation reminds me of the second round of the 2002 NHL playoffs. In that round, the Hurricanes matched up against the Montreal Canadiens and a goalie who seemed unbeatable. The Hurricanes won game 1 in that series, but then were stymied by Canadiens netminder Jose Theodore in games 2 and 3. When the Hurricanes were down by three goals late in game 4 and facing a goalie who seemingly was flawless, the chances of a series win seemed minimal. But then it happened. The Miracle at Molson saw the Hurricanes score three times in the third period to force overtime and then pull off the miracle. As significant as the win was, the effect on Theodore was also instrumental in what followed.  From there, the Hurricanes stormed to a 5-1 win in Raleigh and then a resounding 8-2 win in Montreal. Seemingly in...

ECF Gm2 @Bos: Boston punches early and Canes wilt on way to 6-2 loss

For anyone who had plans for Mother’s Day or otherwise and missed the Hurricanes game on Sunday, the game was as bad as the score would indicate. The Hurricanes two goals were long after the game was decided and there were no empty-netters or piling on. So the game really was a brutal four-goal loss that arguably was really a five-goal loss before the Bruins let up a bit. This recap will go in a slightly different direction than normal not doing a chronological recap in much detail but instead focusing on what comes out of this game.   The negatives 1) Hurricanes inability to punch back One thing that is striking through two games in this series is the Bruins ability to find opportunities to figuratively punch the Hurricanes in the mouth, and the Hurricanes inability to respond. In the game 1 loss, the Hurricanes actually seemed to have the game in hand exiting the first period. Then the Bruins received a couple power play opportunities and struck quickly to go from a 2-1 deficit to a 3-2 lead. At that point the Hurricanes were still in the game but really were not able to muster much of a response. Sunday’s game was a bit similar. The Hurricanes were fine out of the gate and arguably even had the upper hand physically. But then the Bruins scored on a bad goal allowed by Petr Mrazek and followed it up with a quick power play strike. The Hurricanes never regained their feet. Like an MMA fighter taken down, the Hurricanes were not ever able to get regain their feet...
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