Chronological Blog List

2020 NHL Playoffs — Gm2 Vs. NYR: Canes ride Svechnikov hat trick to 4-1 victory

After an impressive series opening win against the New York Rangers on Saturday, the Hurricanes entered Monday’s game mostly looking for a repeat except for maybe trying to take fewer penalties.   Recap of the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 win over the New York Rangers That general plan did not go so well in the first period. The Hurricanes forecheck was not as dominant early on, but the Hurricanes still struck first when Aho and Svechnikov streaked up the ice together ending with an Aho pass and Svechnikov beating Lundqvist short side for a 1-0 lead. But then the one problem from game 1 crept in, and this time bit the Hurricanes. Consecutive penalties by Haydn Fleury and Sebastian Aho gifted the Rangers an extended 5-on-3 power play goal. Artemi Panarin awoke after a quiet game 1 to score a power play tally to get the Rangers even at 1-1. Jordan Martinook took another first period penalty, but the Hurricanes survived to exit a ‘meh’ first period tied at 1-1. Petr Mrazek was especially good in the first half of the period which was a key factor in staying even early. Next the Hurricanes erupted for two quick goals to start the second period. First, Svechnikov fired a laser from a ways out on the power play to beat Lundqvist again only 1:11 into the second period. Then only 1:11 later Martinook scored after Morgan Geekie shoveled the puck across the top of the crease to him. Suddenly the Canes were up 3-1. The rest of the second period was not bad, but the Hurricanes seemed to be more cruising...

‘What I’m watching’ — 2020 Playoffs — Gm2 vs. NYR: Seeking a repeat

Other than being sloppy in taking too many unnecessary penalties, the Hurricanes start to the 2020 NHL Playoffs included large amounts of what the team would hope for. The team dictated play from the opening puck drop with a strong forecheck that has not really been consistent weapon during the 2019-20 season. The team won the battle of the stars with Aho’s line having a productive game. Mika Zibanejad did counter them, but Artemi Panarin was mostly a non-factor after being a deciding factor in the regular season match ups. In short, the key ingredients were there which made for an encouraging start to the playoffs even beyond notching an all-important win. The questions around game two on Monday, again at 12pm, focus on whether the Canes can build on the game one performance and if the Rangers can make adjustments. Based on that, my watch points follow:   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the New York Rangers 1) The forecheck I am on record as saying that whoever won the forecheck would win the series. Even though the final score looked closer, the Canes dominant effort in that regard was definitely a key factor in Saturday’s win. That sets up two questions for Monday’s game. Can the Hurricanes repeat in terms of effort level and commitment? Can the Rangers make adjustments both in terms of exiting their own end successfully and also creating more duress with their own forecheck.   2) Cleaning up the sloppiness in terms of penalties The one big negative in Saturday’s day game was the volume of unnecessary penalties taken by...

2020 NHL Playoffs — Gm1 Vs. NYR: A glorious return of Canes hockey in 3-2 win

A glorious and surreal return of hockey After a long layoff and only a single exhibition game that had at least as many negatives as positives, no one (legitimately) knew exactly what to expect in the Carolina Hurricanes match up against the New York Rangers that kicked off the 2020 NHL Playoffs. For Canes fans, the unveiling of the great mystery was a pleasant surprise. The game in general started with a bang for the entire NHL. The game was physical with finished checks and a few big hits right from the opening puck drop, an early goal from Jaccob Slavin and even a fight between Justin Williams and Ryan Strome just in case someone needed an exclamation point. After a journey that many thought would not actually culminate in games, hockey was very clearly back. As I said on Twitter shortly after the game ended: The return of @Canes hockey was nothing short of glorious with physical start, Jaccob Slavin goal and Justin Williams fight. It's only game 1, but given the broader situation in our world and the LONG journey since the last game more than 4 months ago, it feels surreal. — Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) August 1, 2020 More than an hour after the finish of the game, it still feels surreal to me.   Recap for the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 win over the New York Rangers As noted above, the game had a physical tone from the very beginning. Brady Skjei leveled former teammate Jesper Fast. Martin Necas was similarly toppled. And across the board, checks were consistently finished. Just to make sure the...

‘What I’m watching’ — 2020 Playoffs — Gm1 vs. NYR: And so it begins…again

Under the strangest of circumstances, the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers will kick off the 2020 NHL Playoffs at 12pm inside the bubble in Toronto but thankfully also live on our TVs. The Hurricanes are the higher seed and team in the standings, but the Rangers swept the regular season series. But with the odd circumstances of having a four-month layoff and then parachuting directly into playoff hockey, I think anyone who thinks he/she can predict how things will go either has a crystal ball or maybe is a bit naive. But from what I have seen/read, those who predict series this time of year either via model or just personal predictions seem to lean in the Hurricanes favor. As for today’s game, the odds shown here have the Hurricanes as being the favorite to win against the Rangers. I have already written a bunch about this series, so I will mostly point to those angles before offering last thoughts. On July 23, I offered a first set of quick hitters on the series which you can find here. I followed up on July 24 with an article that had a varied set of possible story lines for the series which you can read here. Finally, yesterday I boiled the series down to four factors that I think are most likely to decide the outcome. That article is here. Mostly in the vein of that final article, my watch points for the Saturday’s game are as follows:   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the New York Rangers 1) Rusty or ready Somewhere I am on...

What decides the Carolina Hurricanes versus New York Rangers series

Now only one day from 2020 playoff hockey, today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers thoughts on what I think is most likely to decide the Canes/Rangers series.   1) Whoever wins the forecheck Both teams have young legs and use them to pressure the puck coming out of the defensive zone. Both teams are at their best when they can tilt the ice, force turnovers and attack quickly in transition. In addition, I think both teams can be had defensively if forced to sort things out and defend under duress. As such, I think whichever team wins the forecheck will gain a significant advantage in terms of high quality scoring chances and could ride that to a series win.   2) Goaltending In the playoffs goaltending always has the chance to be the X factor, and goalie play could be even more significant in this series. In the regular season series, the Rangers had a decided edge in net. Neither Reimer nor Mrazek were particularly good against the Rangers. I chalk that up more to coincidence and a small sample size than anything else, but if happens in the playoffs, it could be catastrophic. The Rangers are strong in net, and that was a significant factor in the Rangers season series sweep.   3) The stars A major story line of the regular season was the Hurricanes inability to control Artemi Panarin or Mike Zibanejad. The pair of Rangers were consistently the best players on the ice during the regular season series. Especially in the playoffs, the team whose best players play better usually wins a series. For that...

Recap/notes on Carolina Hurricanes’ exhibition game 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals

After the longest of waits, the Carolina Hurricanes returned to the ice in what felt almost like a surreal event. Sure the game was only an exhibition game, but it felt like so much more in our chaotic world over the past months. The game is significant with Rod Brind’Amour having only a single game to assess individual players and combinations and try to combine that with longer-term track records to figure out how to ice a playoff winner again. In total, the Hurricanes had ups and downs. Rather than doing a recap, I will focus instead on my biggest takeaways as relates to assessing players and figuring out what to do for Saturday.   Tough night for the blue line In total, I thought the defense mostly struggled. I would rate Sami Vatanen as mostly good (though even he had a bad turnover when he mostly whiffed trying to sweep a puck to Jaccob Slavin at the defensive blue line. Haydn Fleury was steady and made some good decisions stepping up into the play offensively. And that is about where my positives end for the blue line. Jaccob Slavin had an uncharacteristically tough night. He failed to identify where the passing lane was defending a 2-on-1 for the Capitals’ first goal. He stepped up and had Tom Wilson go right around him to create another Capitals 2-on-1 and a goal. And on the Vatanen mishap mentioned above, he was a half step slow getting a piece of the puck to play it to the boards or a piece of the Caps player who retrieved it. In general, Slavin...

Building a blue line without Dougie Hamilton

It is a Carolina Hurricanes game day!!!! For those looking for pre-game or similar, I got impatient after the long layoff and wrote that yesterday. You can find my ‘what I’m watching’ for the Canes versus Caps HERE.   When we lost saw the Carolina Hurricanes in action many months ago, consecutive injuries to Dougie Hamilton and then Brett Pesce left huge gaps in the blue line. General Manager Don Waddell opted to add reinforcements via the trade market rather than reach to the AHL. Brady Skjei and Sami Vatanen were acquired. Skjei jumped immediately into the lineup and paired with Haydn Fleury on a new second defense pairing. Vatanen who was injured when acquired had setbacks and had not played in a Hurricanes uniform when the season was cut short. After the long layoff, the Canes figured to be deep on defense with Hamilton back, Vatanen and Skjei both still onboard and even Pesce a possibility later in the playoffs. But fast forward to today, and the team might be right back where it was after the trade deadline. Pesce seems unlikely to play in the Rangers series, and now Hamilton is dinged up. Brind’Amour called him doubtful for Wednesday’s exhibition game. Hopefully being even a tiny bit hazy about the situation implies that Hamilton is at least a maybe for Saturday’s playoff start. But just in case not, today’s Daily Cup of Joe considers how to build a blue line minus Hamilton and Pesce. The good news is that the Hurricanes are still fairly deep at the position. All of Jaccob Slavin, Jake Gardiner, Sami Vatanen, Haydn...

Watch points for Wednesday

Usually, my ‘What I’m watching’ is a game day article.But with hockey now only a day away after a four-month layoff, I think it is fair to jump into it a bit early especially given the unprecedented circumstances with the game being the lone exhibition game before parachuting straight into playoff hockey only three days later. So today’s Daily Cup of Joe has at least a first set of watch points for the Canes exhibition game against the Capitals on Wednesday at 4pm.   General team level Jump Under Rod Brind’Amour, the Hurricanes have generally been fast out of the gate in preseason. Other teams catch up by the start of the regular season which is all that matters, but under normal circumstances that is three weeks later. Is that preseason advantage mostly a function of the fact that the games do not matter? Or is it something that will repeat even when the games matter? Teams that take a week or two to get up to speed will likely exit the bubble quickly and start looking toward the 2020-21 season. So on Wednesday, I will be watching closely to see if the Canes seem to have the same advantage in terms of jump and intensity.   Crispness After a four-month layoff from real games, there is likely to be some sloppiness. The question will be which teams can shake off any rust and find at least a mid-season rhythm sooner rather than later. Wednesday represents a first look at how ready the Canes are to play real hockey with a good measuring stick on the other bench.  ...

Three players most critical to Canes’ playoff success

If you are just getting back into the swing of things for Canes hockey with the start of the playoffs now only five days away, you can always catch up on recent coverage by checking out the chronological list of articles HERE. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe continues on the playoff theme and identifies three players who I think are most critical to the Carolina Hurricanes’ playoff success.   Sebastian Aho In his first NHL playoffs, Sebastian Aho was productive and good. But in both the Capitals series and the Bruins series that ushered the Canes out of the playoffs, the other teams’ best players were better than Aho and his line. In the NHL, depth and balance matters, but at the same time playoff series are very often decided by which team’s best players are best in the series. Because of that, the playoffs are often players climb the last notch on the ladder going from being very good to elite. In his second playoffs, I think one of the areas for upside for the Canes is if Aho’s line which is currently loaded with talent with Teravainen and Svechnikov joining him can go from being capable of holding its own against the NHL’s best to bettering them. If Aho and his line can make that leap, I think they could carry the team deep into the playoffs.   Petr Mrazek Goaltending can often be a bit erratic early in the season when goalies are trying to find a rhythm and consistency. With the four-month layoff, the restart could be very much like early season hockey for many...

Pick the story lines for the Canes/Rangers series

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe builds on yesterday’s informal look at the upcoming playoff series between the Carolina Hurricanes and the New York Rangers. With the long layoff and fan-less games, the playoffs could prove to be the most unpredictable in recent history which is saying something for a league that recently had wild card teams sweep. As such, the possible story lines for the Canes/Rangers series are endless. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe tries something a bit different and presents a bunch of possible story lines for the series and leaves it to readers to pick which are most likely and also add some of their own.   Broad NHL story lines It’ll be wild I tell ya’… The regular season series saw the Hurricanes mount decent attacks at least in terms of shot volume but struggle to crack the Rangers’ goalies much. The Rangers scored in bunches. With the long layoff, might the games be a bit loose at first such that we see some big scores?   ‘Inside the bubble’ — The story of August hockey If the NHL plays it right, I really think the stories coming out of the bubble could be the most fun part of the 2020 NHL playoffs. The world desperately needs some levity right now. The ball is on the tee for the NHL to encourage and support personalities and fun and break free a bit from its staid and stodgy personality. Will it capitalize?   Canes positives Aho and Svechnikov rise up Svechnikov started strong but then had his rookie playoffs interrupted by the layoff after his unsuccessful bout...

Quick hitters on the New York Rangers series

Sometime closer to the start of the playoff series, I will write an article or two that goes into a bit more depth on the Canes versus Rangers series. But today’s Daily Cup of Joe jumps the gun a bit and offers a few quick hitters on matching up with the Rangers.   Who pressures whom? The Rangers ice a young team that has the ability to play uptempo hockey and attack quickly if given time. The series could turn on who pressures whom. Can the Hurricanes refind their overwhelming forecheck that was the team’s bread and butter during its success in the latter half of the 2018-19 season and the 2019 NHL Playoffs? That forecheck was not a regular ingredient in 2019-20. If the Hurricanes can do that, perhaps the young Rangers blue liners will wilt under the pressure. But if the Rangers can quickly navigate their way past the first line or two of defense, the Rangers youth and skill can really put pressure on a Canes back end that can have some holes in terms of sorting things out under duress. Who wins this battle could very well win the series.   The mental part of the goaltending battle Arguably, the single biggest factor in the regular season series was goaltending. The Hurricanes netminders were generally decent or better in total during the season but for whatever reason fell a bit flat against Rangers. And the Rangers goalies were outstanding. While I do think it is fair to say that the Rangers have an edge in net, I think the bigger thing could be the mental...

Why every player matters for Canes playoff success (Part 2 of 2)

Yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe worked through about half of the Carolina Hurricanes lineup offering thoughts on how/why each player could be difference-maker in the upcoming playoffs. You can find that HERE. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe continues on that path in looking at most of the remaining players likely to be in the lineup or the first men up in the event of an injury.   Vincent Trocheck Aho’s line especially when it includes Teravainen and Svechnikov is a bona fide first scoring line. But behind that, Staal’s line, if considered the second line, is going to be light on scoring. That works fine if the line does it job as a shutdown but does also make it critical for the team to find depth scoring in the bottom half of the forward group. Erik Haula produced goals on the power play and at even strength but was not really a catalyst/playmaker for a second scoring line. If Trocheck can fill that role, the Hurricanes gain the scoring depth needed in the playoffs, especially when playing as the way team and forced to play match ups dictated by the opposing coach.   Martin Necas As a rookie it is not fair to expect Martin Necas to lead the way in the playoffs, but with a ton of skill and now 72 games of NHL experience, could he be ready to emerge as a young star. He is likely to play alongside Trocheck and could be a significant factor in determining if the Canes can find valuable depth scoring.   Brock McGinn Brock McGinn could end up slotting anywhere...

Why every player matters for Canes playoff success (Part 1 of 2)

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers quick hitters for why/how every Canes player matters for playoff success.   Petr Mrazek 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.   James Reimer 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.   Sebastian Aho 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.   Andrei Svechnikov 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.   Teuvo Teravainen 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.   Jordan Staal 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...

Canes players with potential to take step up from 2019 playoff performances

The Carolina Hurricanes entered the 2019 NHL Playoffs with a roster heavy on players with little or no playoff experience. The lack of experience proved to be a non-issue, and the young group rose up to defeat an experienced adversary in the Washington Capitals and then win another round before hitting a wall in the Eastern Conference Finals. One might assume that the Canes young guns hit the ground running in post-season play which is what catapulted the team eight wins and three rounds deep in the 2020 playoffs. But if one can get past the exhilaration of the success, the first time in the playoffs was actually a mixed bag for the young group. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks at key players who could/should have room to improve from their 2019 playoff performances.   Sebastian Aho By no means did Sebastian Aho or compatriot Teuvo Teravainen have a poor playoff campaign last spring. Aho’s 12 points in 15 games represented a 66-point pace over 82 games, and Teravainen’s 10 points a 55-point pace. Though definitely not maxed out, the numbers by themselves are respectable. But lost in looking at scoring totals is the fact that the best forwards on the opposing team were significantly more productive in both the Washington and Boston series. Aho tallied a relatively quiet five points in the Washington series. Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin tallied nine points in that series. Against the Bruins, Bergeron’s line (including power play success) was the best in the series and dictated the outcome. Was Sebastian Aho’s 2019 playoff performance a flop? Not at all. But at a...

The John Forslund situation

If I were a beat reporter who tracked the team day to day for a living and/or if I had been a writing rhythm when the news broke initially, I would have written about John Forslund and that whole situation when it broke. Instead, I have been a bit stuck at how to come at that whole thing. For those with a subscription to The Athletic, Sara Civian caught up with John Forslund and shared some perspective from his side of the situation. But I am not using hyperbole when I say that the John Forslund situation is the biggest thing happening with the Carolina Hurricanes right now despite the fact that we are now only two weeks from playoff hockey. In my book, John Forslund ranks second only to Rod Brind’Amour in terms of being central to the fabric of the team, organization and community. (If you want to make a case for Ron Francis for what he did getting hockey on the map in North Carolina, I acknowledge the merit in your opinion but stick with mine that has Forslund only behind Brind’Amour.) Though John Forslund’s formal role is that of a television play-by-play announcer, his place in Hurricanes hockey history and our community is much more substantial than that. He has been with us since the beginning of Hurricanes hockey back in 1997 in Greensboro. He, along with the early players, did the hard work to lay a foundation for hockey in North Carolina. My first impression of John Forslund (and Chuck Kaiton too for that matter) is how both were always accessible to the fan...
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