Chronological Blog List

Just inconsistent? Or starting to figure it out?

Oftentimes, the development of young players comes with growing pains. There are flashes of brilliance or a run of strong play that suggests a player has arrived. And then just when it looks like the player is ready to hit and stay at the next level, a setback occurs. The Hurricanes roster is full of young players with high ceilings pretty much all of whom have had bursts of strong play but as of yet have not strung together a full season of playing at a higher level. With Francis prioritizing internal development over external help, the next leg up for the Hurricanes will likely need to be driven by at least some of the Hurricanes young players reaching a higher level of play. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes a look at some of the players who have shown flashes of playing at a higher level but as of yet have not been able to sustain it for the long haul.   Sebastian Aho Arguably as much as any other player on the Hurricanes, he projects to be a top-tier scoring forward. And he has been exactly that for short stretches of hockey. Aho’s 24 goals and 49 points in his rookie season as a 19-year old in 2016-17 were impressive in their own right when considered “for a rookie.” But across the NHL and not adjusting for potential, I would consider 49 points to be high end depth scoring and not truly in the top tier of NHL scorers. And just like in 2016-17, Aho started slowly in 2017-18 at least in terms of goal scoring. He...

Gm32 Vs. Clu: Canes ride stellar outing from Scott Darling to win over Jackets and 3-game winning streak

First and foremost, the Hurricanes picked up another win on Saturday. The victory runs the teams streak to three and also pushes their record to 3-2-2 through seven out of nine games during the road-heavy December stretch. My goal at the beginning was a 5-4 mark which now takes only a split of two road games next week to accomplish. Second and nearly as importantly, Scott Darling was stellar in the win. He rightfully won the first star, outplayed a Vezina-worth opposing goalie in Sergei Bobrovsky and was the best play in the ice when the Hurricanes needed. His role in the win was significant. If this proves to be a turning point in Darling’s 2017-18 season, the win will be even more significant.   The 2017-18 roller coaster The roller coaster ride continues at a dizzying pace. In the wee hours of the night, the team was wrapping up a loss to Anaheim that pushed its record on the road trip to a meager 0-2-2 and the team’s overall record down to .500. I do not think it was a gross overstatement to say that the team’s season was slipping away. But after grinding out too gutsy even if not pretty wins past regulation the road and then returning home to be a good and rested Columbus Blue Jackets team on Saturday, the team is suddenly trending up again. The Canes are now three games above .500, within three points of a playoff spot (adjusting for games played) and on a winning streak.   Saturday’s win over the Columbus Blue Jackets Roller coaster ride aside, the game was...

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm32 Vs. Clu: Return home finds tough match up in waiting Blue Jackets

By no means has it been easy or pretty, but the Carolina Hurricanes return to Raleigh with a two-game winning streak in hand. Courtesy of a shootout win on Tuesday in Las Vegas and then an other side of the country overtime win in Buffalo on Friday, the Hurricanes will try to extend their winning ways. The game is a scheduling oddity on numerous fronts. First, it sees the team return from a 13-day, six-game road trip just to play a single home game before departing again. The game is also odd in the sense that it represents the fourth and final match up against the Blue Jackets despite being only game #32 of the season and prior to a single meeting with either other division foes New Jersey and Washington. I have said all season that the Blue Jackets are one of the toughest match ups stylistically for the Hurricanes in the entire NHL. They forecheck aggressively and push the game to the walls. If if they can force the Canes to the outside, the game sets up nicely for Vezina-caliber Sergei Bobrovsky to just make as many saves as needed on shots he tracks the whole way in. But despite the challenge, the Hurricanes are actually 1-0-2 through the first three games, so there is clearly hope. Here is hoping that the Hurricanes can find a burst of energy in what can be a challenging first game home after a long road trip.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Columbus Blue Jackets 1) Willingness and desire On any night, the Blue Jackets can...

Gm31 @Buf: Canes finish road trip by gutting out a win against the Buffalo Sabres

Just like the rest of the road trip, it wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t easy, but the result in the finale was what the team needed. In a strange game that featured some of the most boring hockey of the entire season (the second period) followed immediately by one of the wildest periods of hockey all year in the third period, the Hurricanes fought their way to a 5-4 overtime win and a respectable 2-2-2 record for the long six-game road trip. As has generally been the case even in the disappointing games, the Hurricanes played a decent first period but really were not rewarded for it. The Sabres seemed to find their way into the game courtesy of a couple power plays that jolted them to life despite not netting goals. With both teams having a poor track record in the second period, it played out almost as if both teams were trying to cautiously slide past it without incident. The Hurricanes scored first when Justin Williams banged in a rebound, but the Sabres answered in short order when Jack Eichel scored the first of his three goals. The period ended 1-1 probably with many a fan dozing off after a couple late nights earlier in the week. But for every bit that the second period was boring, the third period was exhilarating even if not necessarily of the highest quality. Buffalo pushed up 2-1, but Jordan Staal scored a big answer goal to quickly make it 2-2. From there, the Hurricanes ran out to a 4-2 lead seemingly on their way to coasting to a win. Then...

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm31 @Buf: Canes face pivotal game for road trip against the Sabres

By no means has it been easy, but the Carolina Hurricanes will enter the sixth and final game of a long and meandering road trip with the chance to finish up at break even with a win. Because of the minus status of the road trip thus far, the strong play by the rest of the Metropolitan Division and the beatable opponent who also played on Thursday and traveled, Friday’s game is the kind of game that the Hurricanes really need to win. ‘Must win’ for any single game in December is always an overstatement, but per today’s Daily Cup of Joe, I do think that the season slowly slips away for teams who do not capitalize on key games that are favorable match up-wise. In short, the Canes come in at 1-2-2 on the current road trip and gradually falling behind the rest of the Metropolitan Division. The Sabres enter the game ahead of only Arizona among the NHL’s 31 teams and having played and traveled last night. Per my article this morning, the game is the kind that the Hurricanes desperately need to win right now. Against that backdrop, here is ‘what I’m watching’ for tonight’s match up.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Buffalo Sabres   1) Seizing a physical advantage with pace and intensity The advantage from resting and playing a team that played and traveled the night before is not a gift that is granted but rather an advantage that must be seized. Whether things come easily or hard, the Hurricanes need to show up from the opening face-off and...

The need to seize wins in favorable games

So I just finished writing a long and detailed article entitles “Seeking heroes…and taking the next step” only to see it seemingly disappear into the ether of the internet. If this is what the internet looks like post net neutrality, I’m quitting. 🙂 More seriously, I do not have the energy to re-write that article right now, so I will instead pull out something else that I have some scribbled notes on. In the NHL, there is enough parity that there is no such things as a sure win. Bottom teams beat top teams on a fairly regular basis. But good teams do seem to have an uncanny knack for winning most of the games that they should and also rebounding and cutting losing streaks short. For the young Carolina Hurricanes, I would say that this is still a work in progress. Right when the team was surging and trying to play its way back into the 2016-17 season, it somehow managed to lose to bottom dwellers Arizona and Colorado. The 2017-18 season has featured a few puzzling losses to. The team entered Thanksgiving week generally playing good hockey only to lay an egg twice before eking out an overtime win against Nashville salvage something from the week. The Hurricanes near-term schedule features a couple important rounds of games that the team needs to win. It starts with a huge match up in Buffalo on Friday night. The Sabres are near the bottom of the NHL, are 3-5-2 in their past 10 games and played and traveled on Thursday night to boot. The game looks favorable for the Hurricanes...

Thursday Coffee Shop: Holiday gift list

With the holidays end of year approaching, we are continuing our combination holiday sale/year end fundraiser. If you are a regular reader of Canes and Coffee and appreciate what we do, please consider a Canes and Coffee cup (if you want one) or otherwise a small $5-10 donation to help fund our mission at Canes and Coffee to provide local, daily coverage of our hockey team. $18.75 in state or $17.50 out of state (sales tax difference) nets you a coffee cup. Small, simple donations are also appreciated. It’s as simple as making a credit card or PayPal contribution by clicking on the PayPal link HERE and being sure to include your mailing address if you order a coffee cup.   With the busy holiday season upon us and most people working on gift lists and shopping, the Thursday Coffee Shop will take on a mostly lighthearted holiday shopping theme.   Carolina Hurricanes polls Please remember to click ‘vote’ after each individual poll response.   If you could have only one Carolina Hurricanes gift for the holiday season, what would it be? An announcement that the sale of the team to Tom Dundon is officially completed finally putting that long-running saga in the rear view mirror. A 3-game winning streak over the holidays that brings joy to PNC Arena and concludes with a lopsided win over the Pens that quiets the visiting contingent. An at least medium trade that sends a clear message heading into the new year that this team is very clearly aiming to make the 2018 playoffs. A BIG gift card for The Eye that sets off...

Re-handicapping the Metropolitan Division

Through 30 games of the 2017-18 NHL season, the Carolina Hurricanes have two problems. The first is that they have not been good enough. The team’s 31 points in 30 games is on pace for 85 points which is two short of its 2016-17 total and destined to be about 10 points short of a playoff berth regardless of how the competition shapes up. The second problem is that the competition in the Metropolitan Division has played well through 30ish games. Worth noting is that the Hurricanes would still be below the playoff cut line and chasing the same teams in the Metro if they were instead in that Atlantic Division, but the vantage point sitting in fourth place would feel much better than their current eighth. With enough games to evaluate teams based on actual game action, today’s Daily Cup of Joe reassesses the Metropolitan foes.   (Standings based on games above .500 to adjust for games played Columbus Blue Jackets First place — 19-11-1 The Blue Jackets picked up right where they left off during the regular season in 2016-17. Columbus has been near the top of the division most of the season and seems destined to finish the season there. Vulnerabilities: The Blue Jackets are deep at both forward and defense and do not rely on a small number of players to drive play. The only big vulnerability I see is if Sergei Bobrovsky was injured and missed a significant number of games. Short of a Bobrovsky injury, I do not see the Blue Jackets as a team that the Hurricanes likely to chase/catch.   New...

Carolina Hurricanes random thoughts

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a short collection of random thoughts…   Scott Darling One of the biggest challenges for the Hurricanes right now is getting consistently decent or better goaltending. Though not perfect himself, Ward has been the better of the two goalies. On the one hand, Peters and the team in general needs to have an overarching bias toward forcing Scott Darling into the starting role until it works. That said, I think an interesting step on the path to accomplishing that might be to shut Scott Darling down for a few games. To be clear, my aim is NOT to punish him or play mind games. Rather, the aim is very simply to give him a chance to just completely reset and start fresh. There are no guarantees that this would have the desired effect, but given the current trajectory of Darling’s play, I think it is worth a try.   Overtime The Hurricanes shootout win on Tuesday marked the eleventh time that the Hurricanes have played extra hockey in only 30 games. The Hurricanes are now 4-7 which means they have left 1.5 points on the table relative to average and even more if they could beat the average.   Trying to make it February I said before it started that I would be happy with a 5-4 record for the nine-game stretch that includes to current six-game road trip followed by a single stop at home before two more road games. I stand by that assertion despite the fact that treading water is increasing the gap between the Hurricanes and the teams that...

Gm30 @Veg: Canes net gutsy win in first trip to Las Vegas for Cam Ward’s 300th win

As luck would have it, I was pulled away for family stuff midway through the last of the west coast part of the Canes road trip and watched the second half of the game on DVR even later than the regular schedule. Like many other Hurricanes fans, I will be happy to be back in the Eastern time zone this weekend but am happy I stayed up for the western finale.   Above all else… …The Hurricanes desperately needed a win of any kind, so the result is HUGE. With the Hurricanes sputtering on the road, and the majority of the Metropolitan Division playing well, the season was starting to slide down the hill. The Hurricanes know from recent experience just how hard it is to make up too much ground in January through April if you dig a hole, and digging a hole is exactly what they have been doing of late.  At least on Tuesday, the Hurricanes were able to dig a foot into the ground and at least temporarily halt the slide. Everything else is minutiae compared to the top line result at a time like this.   Cam Ward wins #300 The other big headline is Cam Ward earning his 300th career win which is an impressive milestone and even cooler when one considers that all of those wins have been in a Hurricanes uniform. Ironic that win #300 came via shootout win just like win #1 many years ago.   The game itself The game was a gutsy effort by the team. Having played and traveled the night before, Vegas entered with a physical...

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm30 @Veg: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again

When the 2017-18 schedule was published, who would have figured the Vegas Golden Knights for being in a playoff spot and the Carolina Hurricanes again being toward the bottom of the NHL standings? Not I. But the Vegas Knights are currently in second place in the Pacific Division and well above the playoff cut line. Even more impressive is that the team has played mostly without starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, has used five goalies already and has played most of the season in front of Maxime Lagace who in early October was fourth on the team’s depth chart (behind Marc-Andre Fleury, Malcom Subban and Calvin Pickard who was traded to Toronto). Hailing from a city where odds and betting are the central point of the economy, the odds of Vegas making the playoffs suddenly look incredibly good and true to Las Vegas form so do a number of other interesting side bets. But Cinderella story and surprise aside, the Hurricanes have reached the point where none of it matters. Regardless of opponent, situation or anything else the team just desperately needs a win to snap the current losing streak and try to build some semblance of momentum before it is too late.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes against the Vegas Golden Knights   1) Goaltending With the expectation that Ward will get the start in the second half of the back-to-back set, Ward’s play is worth watching. He has not been stellar by any means, but at least in terms of recent play, he has been the better of Hurricanes two goalies. In his last start...

Second guessing…

Let me first start by putting forward a few disclaimers since the current state of Hurricanes hockey has the potential to have this read like a tirade. First, as far as Bill Peters and Ron Francis go, I am not ready to chuck either under the bus. Francis is doing exactly what he said he would do from day 1, and even if the schedule continues to push out, he deserves credit for consistency and steadfastness. Though I do question whether he will be able to break from methodical and conservative when he needs to, I am not going down that road tonight. My rating on Peters right now is more mixed. At best, his team is playing to their talent level, but I do not think it is impossible that this team could be capable of much more. That said, at a minimum I think Peters deserves this year to show what he can do. Second, I am not suggesting that each and every one of the decisions detailed below was wrong. Decision-making for managing an NHL team is an imperfect process even for those who do it well, so picking out some handful of decisions that did not turn out well and using it as evidence that the coach or general manager are not competent is just not accurate. Finally, I honestly am not writing this as part of an angry tirade. Rather, I had a busy day on Monday and unfortunately did not have time to write Tuesday’s Daily Cup of Joe before the 10pm game, so that has me rambling away at nearly 2am. With...

Gm29 @Ana: Canes out-shoot opponent but face hot goalie and lose to the Ducks

With the recent run of Hurricanes struggles coming exclusively with 10pm or later start times, there is quite literally no rest for the weary as a Carolina Hurricanes fan right now. The latest episode featured a 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks in front of an outstanding night for their goalie John Gibson. The game started fortuitously enough with Justin Williams going to the front of the net and scoring early when he tipped a Trevor van Riemsdyk shot past Gibson. Unfortunately, that would be the end of the Hurricanes scoring. The loss featured many common elements of other losses. The game in total was not horrible. Be it because of the opposing goaltending (which was a legitimate factor on Monday night), lack of finishing or a lack of time spent in the crease area, the Hurricanes came up short scoring-wise. The game was not the defensive train wreck of last Thursday’s collapse in San Jose, but it did feature a handful of ‘big oopses’ that played heavily in the outcome. The first goal occurred when Justin Faulk tried to step up at the defensive blue line but whiffed giving Anaheim a 2-on-1 opportunity. Then Darling had the puck trickle through him. Finally, the puck was tapped home by a player who got behind Faulk on the way to the net. The second goal was just plain unfortunate when Haydn Fleury had some combination of losing his balance and mishandling the puck at center ice and more or less handed the puck off for an Anaheim breakaway and goal. When the Ducks beat a stick-less Scott Darling to make...

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm29 @Ana: Canes continue western tour in Anaheim still seeking first win of trip

The negatives coming out of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings were mostly related to broader circumstances and the team’s general trend. The Hurricanes pushed their win-less start to the current road trip to three games with the overtime loss. The team also missed out on the extra overtime/shootout point for the seventh time in 10 tries, leaving valuable points on the table. And with the Metropolitan Division still surging the Hurricanes lone point kept them battling the Flyers for the bottom spot in the division well below the rising pack that includes all of the other six teams in the division. But if one instead looks at Saturday’s game by itself, there are many more positives than negatives. The Hurricanes mostly righted the ship as compared to Thursday’s defense and special teams debacle. Despite not being rewarded past two-thirds of the game, the Hurricanes put forward one of their more consistent (even if not truly great) efforts in recent times. And most significantly, the team dug down and fought for the game in the third period despite being down two goals to the top team in the Western Conference on a night when their goalie seemed unbeatable. Against that context, collecting one out of two points was a good night that falls short only in making up for other recent shortcomings. But the other recent shortcomings do matter, and though Monday’s game is again just a single game, the urgency to win and then do it at least a few times more is increasing. Against that backdrop, the Hurricanes will play the first game in...

Monday Coffee Shop: Where are we and what should we expect for the rest of 2017-18?

Quick reminder about our ongoing holiday sale/fundraiser. Donations of any size are greatly appreciated but $18.75 in North Carolina and $17.50 outside North Carolina also nets you a really cool Canes and Coffee cup. It’s as simple as making a credit card or PayPal contribution by clicking on the PayPal link HERE and being sure to include your mailing address if you order a coffee cup.   Suddenly into the second third of the season, we have seen enough 2017-18 Carolina Hurricanes hockey to evaluate the team and also project what is in store for the rest of the season. The Daily Cup of Joe is a companion article that shares my thoughts on the same subject, but I hope everyone votes/comments here first so that we get unbiased opinions and the diversity of viewpoints that is easily the best thing about Canes and Coffee articles right now. With that…The 2017-18 Carolina Hurricanes…Where are we? Where are we going?   Carolina Hurricanes polls Please remember to click ‘vote’ after each individual poll response.   Through one-third of the season, how do the 2017-18 Carolina Hurricanes compare to what you expected entering the season? The team is outperforming my preseason expectations. The team is doing about as I would have expected. The team is underperforming my preseason expectations. View Results  Loading ...   Based on what you have seen thus far, what do you expect for the remainder of the 2017-18 season? Similar to 2017-18 thus far and also 2016-17 -- Ups and downs during the learning process and no playoffs. Mostly ups and downs but enough up to squeak...
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