Chronological Blog List

Possible next steps for the Carolina Hurricanes rookies

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers quick assessments of the team’s rookies and identifies next steps in terms of improvement for each.   Andrei Svechnikov First to note is that his game is growing just as one would hope it did over the course of his rookie season. In yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe that had a sizable chunk of notes on Svechnikov, I said that people should not sleep on his playmaking ability which I actually think has transitioned to the NHL level a bit faster than his finishing ability. I actually think Svechnikov’s finishing ability is the area with room for improvement right now. With good hands and a shot, he has the tools to be a 30-goal scorer, but early on in the 2018-19 season, he has room to grow in this regard. Some like to discredit his line mates in looking at his goal total, but he has had his share of chances both in alone off the rush and also in front of the net. With time to maneuver, Svechnikov has been prone to make a move and then be just a tiny bit slow in putting the puck in the net such that NHL goalies have been able to stop most of his attempts. He will learn that the opening created by a deke or other move only offers a split second to finish against an NHL goalie not an open net to tuck the puck into. And in front of the net he has had a few chances were where got shots on net but failed to quickly hit a corner and...

Random Canes notes — Andrei Svechnikov, Scott Darling and intermittent scoring struggles

In case you missed it, Monday’s Daily Cup of Joe offered a reprieve from the recent struggles and offered five Carolina Hurricanes positives. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a small set of notes that have not made it into other articles or could benefit from another level of detail.   Andrei Svechnikov on the brink? Many may have forgotten, but Andrei Svechnikov clanged the post twice in his NHL debut in the season opener. He followed that up with two goals and two assists in his next three games. The start left me hoping that he would be one of those rare 18-year olds who parachuted into the NHL and immediately played at a high level. That does happen with elite players but is not really the norm. But Svechnikov then proceeded to play eight games without a single point and be overshadowed by the Elias Pettersson Calder show in Vancouver. Svechnikov was not horrible in those games, and he did not look to be in over his head like Lindholm did as an 18-year old. But he was quiet, and a few things suggested his ascension to NHL scorer might be more gradual. First, as is common with young players, he was prone to some quiet stretches. Second, he was very clearly still learning what it took to beat NHL netminders as he collected a reasonable number of chances but no goals. But a more recent check in on Svechnikov suggests he could be ready for the next leg up. Two things stand out about Svechnikov’s game right now. First and foremost, I continue to be impressed...

Gm18 Vs. Chi: Canes pull out 3-2 overtime win in Cam Ward’s return

The Hurricanes have struggled to find a rhythm of late, have struggled more than flourished, but along the way have found a way to grind out some points and stay just above .500. After an abysmal start in Arizona, the team surged late to at least steal an overtime loss point. Then after a couple tough losses, the Hurricanes capitalized against a struggling Blackhawks team to salvage a 1-2-1 road trip. Then in the first game of a home stand, the Hurricanes stumbled late but still picked up another overtime loss point. Finally on Monday night, the Hurricanes again capitalized on finding a struggling Blackhawks team on the schedule. Over the past six games, I would say that the Hurricanes have struggled much more than they have flourished, but along the way, they have scratched and clawed to a 2-2-2 mark. No doubt, the team will need to eventually find a higher gear and/or a run of wins, but if they do just maybe we will look back on this stretch where the team held things together during tough times and avoided digging a hole.   Canes win 3-2 against the Blackhawks The final entry in that log is of course the Hurricanes win on Monday night. The game truly had something for everyone. For those seeking some nostalgia for long-time Hurricanes netminder Cam Ward, they were rewarded with Ward playing well and making a number of good saves. For those living in the here and now, Scott Darling also played well. Sebastian Aho also continued to lead on the score sheet with two points including the game-winning goal...

Five current positives for the Carolina Hurricanes

First and foremost, Canes and Coffee would like to extend a big thank to all of the veterans in our community. Happy Veterans Day (belated since we did not post anything on Sunday), and thank you for all that you have done to protect our freedom!   After running out to a 3-1 lead after two periods and getting back to piling on shot after shot, the Hurricanes seemed to be on their way to a win to kick off the six-game home stand. So when things went awry in the third period, and the team ultimately lost in overtime, the game felt like a kick in the shins and flipped the mood for many back to negative. By no means do I think I should be able to tell people who they fell about their favorite hockey team and by no means do I think all is rosy right now. One need only read back through about a week of Daily Cup of Joe articles to arrive at the conclusion that my writing is balanced or maybe lately just bipolar. But at the same time that I have my share of reservations about the current state of the Carolina Hurricanes, I think it is also important to also recognize positives. So starting off a fresh week on a game day, here is a short list of current positives for the Carolina Hurricanes (in no particular order).   1) Martinook/Wallmark/Svechnikov This line continues to play well. The trio is very good on the forecheck right now with Martinook leading the way and has also done a decent job of...

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm18 Vs. Chi: Canes face off against Blackhawks in Cam Ward’s return

In addition to the usual ongoing 82-game battle to try to push back up into the playoffs, the Carolina Hurricanes 2018-19 schedule will feature a number of homecomings for former fan favorites. With the departure of long-time favorites Cam Ward and Jeff Skinner and also younger starts Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin, the schedule is checkered with players returning to Raleigh as an opponent for the first time. The first of these games is arguably the biggest with Cam Ward’s return on Monday in a Blackhawks uniform. Cam Ward is nothing short of being a franchise icon. He was a key part in the pinnacle of the Carolina Hurricanes’ history and was one of the leaders in the era that followed. He has been both part of some of the highest highs and also right there with the Canes hockey community during some of the lowest of lows. But more than anything, Ward was always a class act, a good person and most certainly someone who I was always proud to have as part of our hockey community. History aside, the game is also a big one in the here and now. After beating the same Blackhawks to salvage as much as possible from a tough 1-2-1 road trip, the Hurricanes started a six-game home stand on Saturday against the Red Wings. After jump out to a lead and seemingly having two points in hand, the Hurricanes sagged in the third and ultimately lost in overtime, giving up a point in the process. That result makes Monday’s game even more critical in terms of capitalizing on home ice and...

Gm17 Vs. Det: Canes stumble late and convert lead into only an OTL point versus Detroit

Sometimes when a team picks up a point in an overtime loss, they more or less stole or earned a point in the standings. Other times, the losing team gave up a point to get one instead of two. After carrying a 3-1 lead into the third period against a Detroit team that played and traveled last night, the Hurricanes overtime loss on Saturday night to kick off a six-game home stand was clearly the latter. The game was fairly evenly played early on with a reasonable volume of shots in both directions. The Red Wings climbed onto the scoreboard first, when Andreas Anathasiou fired an unscreened one-timer through a leaky Scott Darling from the top of the face-off circle. From that distance and with no screen or traffic, a goalie should not be beaten right through the wickets. But the Hurricanes struck back when Brock McGinn outworked two Wings behind the goal and then later finished when a Haydn Fleury shot pin balled right to him. The back and forth first period finished with the Hurricanes posting an 18 to 14 advantage in shots on net and with a 1-1 score. In the second period, the Hurricanes put the pedal down. The Hurricanes drew two penalties early in the second period, peppered Detroit netminder Jonathan Bernier with shot after shot on the way to a 19 to 7 shot advantage in the period and were ultimately rewarded for their dominant play. First, Micheal Ferland finished from in front of the crease on the power play, and then Sebastian Aho and Teravainen again offered the assists on a goal...

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm17 Vs. Det: Critical home stretch begins versus the Detroit Red Wings

After wrapping up a challenging road trip with a much-needed win over the Blackhawks on Tuesday, the Hurricanes next begin a critical stretch of home hockey. The 1-2-1 mark over the four-game road trip is not good enough, nor is the current 7-7-1 record in terms of chasing a return to playoff hockey. And the trend after a stellar 4-0-1 start continues to be negative. But the team does deserve some credit for scratching and clawing to salvage three points in a 1-2-1 road trip. And only 16 games into the season, by no means is anything decided. And that is what makes the next stretch of games critical. The Hurricanes now play six straight games at home. Four of those six games are against teams currently in the bottom third of the league. To push up into the playoffs will require the team to find some stretches where they reel off wins (and ideally next time not proceed to quickly give up that progress). By no means will the season be decided when the Hurricanes emerge from this home stand still in November, but in terms of charting a different course from recent years, I really believe this next stretch is more critical than many might realize. The game is against a Detroit team that has rebounded a bit from a slow start but still sits near the bottom of the Atlantic Division at 6-8-2. The Wings won in overtime last night against the Rangers and have been hot in winning five out of their last six games.   Against that back drop, here are my watch points...

A quick tour of Carolina Hurricanes numbers through 16 games

Just under 20 percent of the way through the 2018-19 season already, today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes a quick look at some statistics and numbers for the first 16 games.   Full on roller coaster in effect Through only 16 games, the the Caniac Nation has already experienced high highs and low lows. The team already has a five-game point streak to its credit starting the season. When paired with the 5-0-1 preseason, Canes fans had a stretch of 11 games without a regulation loss. But at the other end of the spectrum the team has also suffered a five-game losing streak already too with only a single overtime loss point mixed in.   Unpeeling the layers of defense One could draw any one of multiple conclusions from looking at the Hurricanes defense. Average in terms of goals allows The Hurricanes are tied for 15th in terms of goals allowed. That is right at the median and a modest improvement over the 2017-18 season. A tale of two opposites – shorthanded versus even strength But the average is actually an odd cocktail of atrocious on special teams and incredibly good at even strength. The Hurricanes much-maligned penalty kill is 29th in the NHL and the team’s 16 power play goals (one per game…Ouch!) rank second worst behind only Philadelphia. At even strength, the Hurricanes have dropped a bit during the recent losing streak but still land in a respectable 9th place. Goalies versus defensemen Another interesting split is considering goalie statistics versus shots allowed and to some degree charged to the defensemen. On the one hand, the Hurricanes...

Gm16 @Chi: Canes salvage 4-3 win to close out road trip in Chicago

With the Hurricanes arriving with a five-game losing streak and desperately needing a win, Tuesday’s game played out almost exactly the opposite of most recent games which also meant a win. The Hurricanes capitalized on an opponent that had a weak first period to the tune of three goals and the proceeded to over-rely on goaltending and holding on after that. After running out to a 4-0 lead in the front part of the second period, the Hurricanes gave up two quick goals and then faced down waves of Blackhawk challenges after that with Darling playing a key role. Darling’s three goals against will not stand out as spectacular on the score sheet, but he made saves when the team needed them and in the process played a key role in making sure an early lead was converted to a win instead of a deflating loss. For a team and a fan base that has witnessed how hard the game of hockey can seem at times, the first period was a reminder that the reverse can also be true. The Hurricanes played a decent but not necessarily spectacular first period, but when the chance to score presented itself the Hurricanes finished. First, Andrei Svechnikov swooped a a loose rebound into the net. Then Jaccob Slavin intelligently sensed opportunity and jumped up from the blue line on the power play to finish another loose puck. Then finally lost coverage in front of the net saw Brock McGinn with the puck and time and space in between the circles. When he moved the puck to Phil Di Giuseppe, he had open...

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm16 @Chi: Canes battle struggling Blackhawks hoping to salvage something from road trip

For the second time this week, the Hurricanes will battle another team desperately needing to right the ship and push upward. The situation in Chicago had become dire enough that the team fired long-time coach and three-time Stanley Cup champion Joel Quenneville. As such, the game will be the Blackhawks first under a new coach. But right now games are much less about the opponent and much more about the Hurricanes finding their way back into the win column and a repeatable formula that can start a path upward after five straight losses. With a downward trend in the standings, the election coverage on Tuesday and a Carolina Panthers prime time game on Thursday, the Carolina Hurricanes are entering a fight for their sports relevance right now. Against that back drop here is what I will be watching for Thursday.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Chicago Blackhawks 1) Attitude and response to adversity What disturbed me most about Sunday’s loss was the way the team imploded early and then seemed to whimper away accepting a losing fate. Despite the ups and downs of the season, Sunday was the first game where the team seemed to fold up the tents early and show some of the fragility that permeated the team in the second half of the 2017-18 season. Tuesday’s follow up was just as bad. The team started hesitant and cautious. Gone completely was the fiery attacking style that won the day in the first few games of the season. The result, maybe not surprisingly, was a run of big ‘oopses’ that doomed Tuesday’s...

Questions as the Carolina Hurricanes 2018-19 season reaches an early tipping point

With a fun 4-0-1 start now a distant memory, the Carolina Hurricanes 2018-19 season is suddenly heading in the wrong direction and reaching a critical juncture. Even compared to pretty high standards in recent years, the roller coaster ride only 15 games into the season has been pretty extreme for the loyal fan base that is still holding on. Pressure has built over the five-game losing streak. Even with a win in the road trip finale in Chicago on Thursday, the trip will still be a loser at 1-2-1, but the next win will at least relieve some pressure hopefully before the team explodes. Just as significant as Thursday’s game is what follows. Up next is a six-game home stand heading into the end of year holidays. The team will enter that stretch with a massive amount of pressure and potentially with the fate of the 2018-19 season already at stake. Right now, I have many more questions than answers.   On Rod Brind’Amour’s demeanor Brind’Amour expressed some frustration after Tuesday’s loss but also continues to follow each loss with seemingly more happiness about how hard the team worked and out-chanced the other team than issues with another loss. Is Brind’Amour’s calm, ‘stick to it’ approach exactly what the young team needs to overcome? Or as first time head coach, is Brind’Amour just in over his head and without answers right now?   On Scott Darling In total, the goaltending is failing to be a positive again so far in 2018-19. But Scott Darling is only two games deep into his season that started late due to injury. Is it...

Another short round of things for the Hurricanes to consider

With the Hurricanes losing streak now at five games and and the team now a game below .500 despite a 4-0-1 start, figuring out what must change is increasing in urgency as the current swoon has the 2018-19 season looking eerily reminiscent of recent seasons. I have written a few more detailed and in some cases harsh articles on the team’s weaknesses and areas for improvement. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe is similar but not so much in venting way. Rather, I will attempt to offer a few fairly simple ideas that could change the current trajectory.   Put Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce back together Simple: The duo works well together, and the team could use more things that work right now. What seemed to be a great combination of the team’s two best defensemen and sure-first top defense pairing in Jaccob Slavin and Dougie Hamilton has been ‘meh’, especially of late. I actually think that the offensive part of Hamilton’s game is rising right now even though scoring production has only been modest thus far. But in total, I just do not think either Slavin or Hamilton are thriving right now. After being a plus player in his first three seasons, Slavin will wake up at minus 6 tomorrow. Say what you will about plus/minus, the Hurricanes are losing with Slavin on the ice which is a new thing. With the team sputtering in total, reuniting Slavin/Pesce seems like an easy way to try to get more from Slaving, and I think possibly Hamilton too if he ends up with a partner who he has to share...

Gm15 @StL: Early Canes blunders dig early hole as losing streak stretches to 5 against Blues

Tuesday’s Hurricanes game was very similar to Friday’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights. The team again suffered a quick series of blunders in their own end. The other team capitalized. And the Hurricanes spent the rest of the game trying to dig out of that hole. On Friday night, some late magic pushed the game to overtime and netted a point in the standings. Though the Canes did push again on Tuesday, they never got back into it. On the one hand, the Canes were unlucky to some degree. In the first period, the team had two posts and another shot that went through goalie Chad Johnson but somehow not into the net. The Canes would tally two more posts. So certainly a bounce here or there, especially early, could have made a difference. But one should not overlook the fact that the team shot itself in the foot again in creating another another uphill battle. In a game between two struggling and hungry teams, the game started with a significant amount of cautiousness by both teams. Early on, it was as if both teams were trying not to make the first mistake. Finally at the midway point, the Hurricanes gave in and made a couple costly mistakes in succession. The first occurred when Micheal Ferland made a poor pass and decision in front of his own net. When Dougie Hamilton could not handle it, St. Louis counter attacked before the Canes could recover. Aho was already fleeing the zone. Hamilton could not recover. And Slavin who was admittedly put in a tough spot was too deep and...

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm15 @StL: Canes battle beleaguered Blues hoping to end losing streak

After a pair of weekend road losses that at least saw the Canes pick up an overtime loss point, the team’s road trip continues in the Midwest on Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues before finishing up against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday. The Blues have rebounded a bit with two wins in their past three games, but their 4-5-3 overall record and 5-1 loss in their most recent game have the team trying to find a higher gear. After posting on 16 shots on goal in the 5-1 loss to the Wild, the game offers the potential for a perfect storm for suffering Canes fans. Could the Canes hold the Blues to say 12 shots on goal and still find a way to lose? That is the fear right now. From the Canes side, the team is sitting on its longest losing streak of the season at four games and has the chance to fall below .500 for the first time this season. The level of urgency is increasing as the team tries to patch some holes and figure out a winning formula following the initial starting point surge. Against, that back drop, here are my watch points….   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the St. Louis Blues 1) Attitude When Rod Brind’Amour was hired as the head coach and Justin Williams was named the captain, one thing taken as a given was that the team’s attitude would change. Early on, I would say that there are in fact positive signs as measured by more consistent (even if not perfect) effort level and an ability...

A realistic assessment of the 2018-19 Carolina Hurricanes

After a couple days to digest a pair of weekend losses and time to mull the situation over, today’s Daily Cup of Joe aims to make a realistic assessment of the 2018-19 Carolina Hurricanes. First, it is important to note is that there are positives despite the current losing streak, and the 2018-19 season is far from over. That was the theme of yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe attempts to offer a realistic assessment of the 2018-19 Carolina Hurricanes.   In bullet form 1) This team is still rebuilding. 2) As a team whose regular season ceiling is probably only a few places north of the playoff cut line, goaltending is critical to collect points in the many games that are right on the margin. 3) Aside from goaltending, how quickly young forwards mature is a key determinant of how quickly the next leg up occurs. 4) Having a rookie head coach without a veteran sounding board type in the mix inevitably means there will be growing pains there too.   One at a time 1) Rebuilding I stopped short in posting my season preview series. I wrote but could not talk myself into posting an article that in short said that this team was still in rebuilding mode with upside surprise potential dependent on either goaltending taking a big step forward or young forwards parachuting into the NHL as superstars. Neither of those has happened yet. The goaltending has been ‘meh’ at best, and the young guns are much more learning on the job than taking the NHL by storm. The team has...
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