Chronological Blog List

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm25 Vs. Ana: Canes seek to continue winning ways versus Ducks

The Hurricanes followed up a horrid loss on Saturday with a big road win on Tuesday. The 2-1 win was light on quality play except for goalie Curtis McElhinney who stole a win by saving 48 out of 49 shots faced. As such, the Hurricanes will be looking for the same result but a different formula on Friday against the Anaheim Ducks. The game also features a bunch of roster updates. Haydn Fleury is now officially on injured reserve. Scott Darling and Valentin Zykov were both waived on Thursday. Clark Bishop was recalled. And Brett Pesce is practicing and seemingly close to a return. As for the opponent, the Ducks struggled early in the season but have since rebounded. Anaheim comes in having won four out of their last five. The Ducks also figure to bring a heavy dose of heavy hockey. In recent years, their game has been to try to force the game to the walls, win physical battles for pucks and leverage that to play the puck back to the middle of the rink for scoring chances. My usual set of watch points follow…   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Anaheim Ducks 1) Back to the future lineup-wise Today the team announced that Micheal Ferland was out with a concussion. He joins Haydn Fleury who is also out with a concussion and also Brett Pesce is practicing regular and probably back soon but does not appear to be in the lineup tonight. Michael Smith from the Canes website details the expected lineup HERE. The result is a lineup with more non-regulars and...

Carolina Hurricanes put Scott Darling on waivers

Today it was announced that the Carolina Hurricanes had placed Scott Darling and Valentin Zykov on waivers. Given that I do not think his contract is movable unless the Hurricanes can pull off a deal where they exchange Darling for a similarly troublesome contract, I was a bit surprised that the Hurricanes did not ride a bit farther with three goalies until someone had more definitively claimed the #2 spot behind Curtis McElhinney. But I guess the Hurricanes management team had seen enough to make Petr Mrazek the backup, get back to a normal two goalies and start the process of moving on from Scott Darling.   What is next for Scott Darling Per Twitter early Thursday evening: 2/? I will be utterly shocked if he is claimed. He might be tradeable with #Canes eating big chunk of salary and taking back another bad contract, but no one is going to sign up for $4M per year for 3.75 years for what a goalie who is a reclamation project at this point. — Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) November 30, 2018 3.75 years is a typo, but the point is still the same. 3/? I also do not see this as a move to get Darling going in the AHL with a hopeful NHL return. The AHL crease is Nedeljkovic's and maybe to some degree Booth's. At best Darling is AHL backup with Booth heading back to ECHL for more ice time. #TakeWarning — Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) November 30, 2018 4/? Rather, this is a move to clean things up and chart a course forward at the NHL level...

The schedule ahead for the Carolina Hurricanes

With Tuesday’s win over the Montreal Canadiens, the Carolina Hurricanes woke up on Wednesday in a three-way tie for the last two playoff spots (as measured by games above .500). With only one game remaining in November, the team is scheduled to enter December in at least decent position. Despite the ups and downs already in 2018-19, that is a positive. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes a look at what’s ahead schedule-wise for the team.   The first leg out west After a home game on Friday against Anaheim, the Hurricanes take a week-long jaunt out west to play Los Angeles, San Jose and Anaheim on the road. After a lackluster first game out west earlier this season, the key is hopping straight into high gear for the winnable first game against a struggling Kings team.   The second leg at home After the road trip, the Hurricanes play six out of their next seven games at home over a busy two-week stretch leading up to the Christmas break. The stretch features some tough competition in Toronto, Washington, Boston and Pittsburgh (assuming they can put it together). The home-heavy stretch represents arguably the best chance to start the new year in playoff position.   A mixed final leg After Christmas, the Hurricanes play at Washington and then at New Jersey before a New Year’s Eve tilt at home against Philadelphia.   A friendly next stretch goalie-wise The next five games are nicely spaced out with no back-to-backs and a couple two-day lay offs to boot. That stretch is favorable to riding the hot hand in Curtis McElhinney. The...

Re-sorting out the Canes goalie situation

Right now, the Carolina Hurricanes are blazing what feels like a new frontier, one in which they have a clear #1 goalie who is playing well.   The unpredictability of the position The situation illustrates the unpredictability of the position. As I said on Twitter after Tuesday’s win that saw Curtis McElhinney stand on his head, play goalie while juggling three flaming hockey sticks and stop any and all shots simply with Jedi mind tricks… He was not even on the list of possible options in June, July, August, September or even the first of October, but the Hurricanes suddenly have a starting goalie in Curtis McElhinney. #TakeWarning — Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) November 28, 2018 And league-wide, it is no different. Top 10 #NHL goalies: Save percentage (10+ GP) Rinne NSH .942Halak BOS .936Andersen TOR .932Rittich CGY .930DeSmith PIT .927Vasilevskiy TB .927Gibson ANA .926Varlamov COL .926Greiss NYI .925Bishop DAL .923Campbell LA .923 pic.twitter.com/d0dJynlAIs — The Hockey News (@TheHockeyNews) November 27, 2018 Four of the top ten goalies entering play on Tuesday were not starters when the season began. Who had Greiss, Campbell, DeSmith and Rittich among the league’s best in their preseason predictions? In addition, McElhinney is now at .930, so that adds another.   On McElhinney’s current run and chances of it continuing McElhinney entered the season expected to be a backup, but that is not because of his level of play in recent years. He had a stellar .934 Save Percentage and 2.15 Goals Against Average in 2017-18 with the Maple Leafs and a solid .917 Save Percentage in 2016-17 split between the Maple Leafs and...

Gm24 @Mon: McElhinney steals 2-1 win to get Canes back on track in Montreal

Recap of the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens After a couple days off to digest one of the worst efforts of the season, the Hurricanes were back at in Montreal on Tuesday. Early on, the game looked like a ping pong match with both teams knocking pucks out of their own end or often settling for dumping the puck deep from the neutral zone. Back and forth the two sides went early on with a limited number of good chances. But things picked up as the period wore on. The Canadiens were actually on the winning side of the shot total, possession and medium to good scoring chances. But after resting for the second half of the back-to-back and having three days off since his last win, Curtis McElhinney was stellar in the first period. Just how well he is tracking the puck right now was illustrated in a short sequence that saw him first track a deflected shot and make the save look routine. Shortly thereafter he faced an even odder test when Justin Faulk accidentally deflecting a centering pass in on net. Instead of the usual knee jerk desperation, McElhinney calmly shifted and calmly received the puck on his pad and steered it to the side as if it was a normal play. And so things went for much of the second half of the first period. With Victor Rask scoring a goal on a tip, the Hurricanes emerged from the first period with a 1-0 lead despite being out-shot and (by a modest margin) probably outplayed. The second period was a continuation of...

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm24 @Mon: Canes seek rebound in Montreal

After fun home wins before and after Thanksgiving, the Hurricanes took to the road on Saturday and laid an egg. With consecutive 2-1 weeks, I would say that the overall trajectory is still positive even if imperfect. But Saturday’s game was a loss that had Brind’Amour scathing mad after the game and the team looking for a rebound in the next game. That next game happens tonight in Montreal. The Canadiens are maybe surprisingly right in the thick of the playoff chase with an 11-8-5 record that places the Habs tied for the eighth and final playoff spot (based on games above .500). With previous captain Max Pacioretty the latest departure, the team is led by some new faces. New additions Max Domi and Tomas Tatar are first and third respectively in scoring and rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi is also contributing. Interestingly, Carey Price who has a sub-.900 Save Percentage and greater than 3.00 Goals Against Average is still trying to regain his Vezina-level form. With the standings so bunched up in the middle, the game is important for both teams. Right now, a win or two can boost a team 2-4 places in the standings. Similarly, a couple losses can push a team near the bottom of the pack in the Eastern Conference. Against that backdrop, here are my watch points for Tuesday’s game.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Montreal Canadiens 1) A response after Saturday’s debacle For the second time in as many weeks, the Hurricanes interrupted a decent stretch of hockey with a rough loss. After losing 4-1 to the Columbus Blue...

Charting a course for Jake Bean

With Brett Pesce and more recently Haydn Fleury out of the lineup due to injuries, the Hurricanes needed to reach to Charlotte to ice six defensemen. Veteran AHLer Trevor Carrick earned the first call up and played in Saturday’s game, but during the layoff between games, the team swapped in Jake Bean. Bean figures to make his NHL debut in Montreal on Tuesday. The length of Bean’s audition figures to be short and also driven more by the return of Pesce or Fleury than how well he plays. So I think his real audition is likely not until the 2019-20 season. But any time a player steps into an NHL lineup, he has a chance to play so well that he just says. As such, the timing is still good for an article discussing the appropriate development path for Jake Bean.   His 2018-19 season thus far Only 21 games into his professional career, Bean is off to a good start with the Charlotte Checkers. He has accumulated three goals and eight assists in those 21 games and is +6 which ranks second only to Roland McKeown on the Checkers. More significantly than the few basic numbers, Bean has been earning ice time and trust at the AHL level. Especially for an offensive defenseman, his start in the AHL is encouraging. He has transitioned well and quickly earned more ice time and responsibility.   But is he NHL-ready? To be honest, the answer is probably not. Bean had a strong front half of training camp and also preseason, but he also had issues at times defensively toward the end...

Random Canes notes

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a short burst of random Canes notes that have not made it into other articles yet or deserve a bit more attention.   Brett Pesce The team really misses him in games like Saturday’s where they are under attack more so than attacking. In my opinion, he is the steadiest of the defensemen and usually offers some stability when things get ‘scrambly’ defensively.   Scott Darling Increasingly, the team seems to trot out its worst efforts when Darling is in net. I do not think that was the case last season when quite often the team played well and Darling just did not. By no means is this a defense of Darling’s play. As I noted in my recap from Saturday’s loss, poor play is not necessarily and either/or for goaltending or defense. In some cases, both are bad. I think the team plays differently in front of Darling in trying to do too much which actually makes things worse in three different ways. First, it takes the team away from the attacking style that is its strength. Second, the team goes overboard trying to suppress shots when I think Darling actually looks better when he is seeing the puck a decent amount and can find a rhythm. Third is that in trying to hard to stop scoring, the Hurricanes actually tend to be worse defensively. The question is what can be done to rectify the situation. I think it is a bit of a chicken and egg situation. Can the Hurricanes skaters dial up their level of trust for Darling such that...

Gm23 @NYI: Canes lay an egg versus Isles and winning streak ends at three

A dose of broader perspective While there is very little positive to take specifically from Saturday’s game itself, a bit of broader perspective is probably a good starting point. The Hurricanes finished the week at 2-1-0 which is a solid playoff pace type of mark. Even better, both wins came in front of home fans and made for fun nights at PNC Arena. So while Saturday was not good, one does not have to reach back far at all to find a slightly larger sample size and legitimate positives.   The simple, unpleasant account for Saturday’s 4-1 loss Put simply, the Hurricanes laid an egg on Saturday. The team uncharacteristically had little for jump out of the gate. Scott Darling had nothing for answers early when the team needed time to try to play its way into the game. And the other team was just better all night. The defense did not give up a ton of shots, but the volume of defensive break downs and coverage issues meant that too many of the chances against were grade A quality. Rate the night as a C at best defensively despite the low shot volume. By no means can one hang this loss completely on Scott Darling on a night when the team in total played poorly. But at the same time, his performance was equally uninspiring on a night where a strong start and a couple great saves could maybe have bought time for the team to play its way into the game. Instead, the Islanders first two shots were goals, and when the Hurricanes seemed to maybe be...

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm23 @NYI: Canes put three-game winning streak on the line against the Isles

With Friday’s 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers, the Carolina Hurricanes suddenly have a four-game winning streak and have points in six out of seven games. No doubt, the trend is overwhelmingly positive right now. With a win, the team would match its longest winning streak at four games. But Saturday offers a couple challenges. First, the Hurricanes will likely have to win in front of someone other than Curtis McElhinney who figures to get the second half of the back-to-back off. Second, the game features a match up against an Islanders team that has given them fits so far this season. In two games, Barry Trotz’s new way Islanders have held the Hurricanes to only two goals in two games, and the Hurricanes have only a single overtime loss point to show for the pair of games. So in Saturday’s game, what will win out? The current momentum? Or the early season struggles against the Islanders?   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the New York Islanders 1) Goaltending The odds on bet is that Brind’Amour will need to turn to someone other than Curtis McElhinney in the second half of the back-to-back. Petr Mrazek has been practicing, but it is not clear if he is an option. Most likely, the team goes back to Scott Darling. As such, goaltending is at the top of my watch list for Saturday’s game.   2) Another round of depth scoring Friday’s win was fueled by a massive break through night for Lucas Wallmark’s line that saw Jordan Martinook net a hat trick with line mates Wallmark and Svechnikov...

Gm22 Vs. Fla: Canes ride Jordan Martinook hat trick to third straight win

On Friday, the Carolina Hurricanes won the second of two home games sandwiching Thanksgiving day. In the process, the team pushed its win streak to three games and pushed up into a three-way tie for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference (as measured by games above .500). After watching the game after hours again, an abbreviated set of player/game notes follow. Jordan Martinook’s night Game in and game out, Jordan Martinook receives Nathan Gerbe-like marks for every game effort and intensity. In addition, his line centered by Lucas Wallmark and also including Andrei Svechnikov has been very good of late. But despite playing well and generally winning the territorial battle, scoring has been tough to come by. But on Friday, the line broke through courtesy of three Martinook goals that led the way to victory. The trio put the puck on net 12 times on Friday. Whereas line mate Svechnikov impressed me most on Wednesday, Martinook did so on Friday and not just because of the scoring. He had two and a half of his one man forecheck shifts that just kept banging bodies until he won the puck. He also filled a different role in stepping in to very emphatically say ‘no’ when a Panthers player started taking liberties with Wallmark who was down on the ice after the whistle. Every so often the hockey gods get it right and reward those who deserve it. That line in general has deserved it for some time now.   Curtis McElhinney He seems to have everything going or him right now. What stands out most is his feel...

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm22 Vs. Fla: Canes aim to continue winning ways versus the Panthers

After an impressive 5-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday and a day off for Thanksgiving, the Carolina Hurricanes are back at it on Friday on home ice against the Florida Panthers. A win clearly pushes the Canes a notch above the fray in the Eastern Conference and Metropolitan Division standings, but a loss pulls them right back into it. Such is the tightly-bunched standings in the NHL right now. The Florida Panthers come into the game still trying to figure it out for the 2018-19 season. The Panthers are last in the Atlantic Division, one game below .500 and having lost three of their last four games. But this game is more about the Hurricanes just continuing on their current path. The team ground out a solid even if unspectacular win last Sunday and followed it up with an even better win on Wednesday. Especially early on, Wednesday was the best Brind’Amour style attacking game that the team has played in some time, and goalie Curtis McElhinney has been good or better in net in two consecutive games. My watch points follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Florida Panthers 1) The same jump These holiday games can be weird. Just like everyone else, hockey players are out of routine with the holidays, company in town, kids out of school, big feasts, etc. As much the home holiday games can be fun, I actually think teams are better off on the road where they can stay in their routines. But the positive is that the Hurricanes should be riding momentum coming out...

Considering Curtis McElhinney

Fresh on the heels of two solid wins including Wednesday’s victory over a good Toronto Maple Leafs team, Curtis McElhinney is officially the Carolina Hurricanes starting goalie. As a player who played preseason with another team and was only acquired via waivers to fill in for an injured Scott Darling, he is an improbable #1 but significantly has earned the role. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks at the past and also the future for Scott McElhinney.   A self-made man As a sixth-round draft pick in the 2002 draft, Curtis McElhinney was not a player with a high probability of every making it to the NHL when he was drafted. But he made progress during four years of college hockey, spent two years in the AHL proving he was capable and then made the jump to the NHL fairly quickly. Since making his NHL debut with the Calgary Flames during the 2007-08 season, he has played for seven NHL teams and three AHL teams. As a journeyman backup nothing has ever been handed to him. Instead, McElhinney has had to earn his limited ice time and be ready when called upon to fill in for whoever was ahead of him on the depth chart. After years posting respectable but not great numbers, McElhinney seemed to find a higher gear over the past few years. In 2016-17 with Columbus, he posted a .924 Save Percentage and 2.39 Goals Against Average. Then in 2017-18 with Toronto, he upped that to a .934 Save Percentage and 2.14 Goals Against Average with an impressive 11-5-1 record. But even during his rise, he...

What I am thankful for as a Caniac

Happy Thanksgiving Caniacs! I hope you and yours have a joyous and peaceful Thanksgiving Day!   Keeping with the Thanksgiving thing, I am incredibly thankful to have Hurricanes hockey. I could write a longer article with more details, but all it would do is bury the points. Instead, I will share why I am so thankful for Carolina Hurricanes hockey and do so in a rare fit of succinctness.   In no particular order, below are the three things that I am most thankful for as a Carolina Hurricanes fan.   Reason #1: That we have an NHL team at all The good years demonstrated that this area can succeed and an NHL hockey market. But by no means is it the only previously hockey-less market that can. To this day, I count the fact that the Hurricanes landed here 21 years ago among my greatest sports blessings.   Reason #2: The memories No doubt, the organization has underperformed in terms of making the playoffs, and the last decade has been tough at times, but nothing can take away the special memories I have from this team. The 2001 playoffs and 2002 Stanley Cup run are when I fell in love with Canes hockey and branded it on my heart. The 2006 Stanley Cup championship speaks for itself. And the 2010 run was exhilarating in its own right.   Reason #3: Being able to share it with my family From my earliest days as a sports fan, it has always been something that intertwined with family relationships. All of my early memories of sports include my dad such that...

Gm21 Vs. Tor: Canes post impressive win over Atlantic Division-leading Maple Leafs

I watched after hours after holiday/family time, so my comments will be brief and skip the full recap.   An impressive win Last weekend, the Hurricanes took a shot at division-leading Columbus and came up woefully empty in a 4-1 loss. Wednesday’s game was against a similarly strong opponent and yielded a significantly different results. The two points are critical, but how the Hurricaes went about it also adds some points.   Andrei Svechnikov I thought this was his best game of the season. He netted only a mop up empty-net goal on the score sheet, but I thought he was especially good. He touched the puck battling around the net three times before Trevor van Riemsdyk goal. He had a similar flurry in the second period that also saw him make a pretty pass to Jordan Martinook on the rush (the shot bounced off the cross bar). He had eight shots on goal in the game. In addition, his hard hat and lunch pail style of play around the net show that he is hungry to score and willing to do the dirty work to do it.   Calvin de Haan/Justin Faulk The duo has grown to become the team’s steadiest defense pairing and the one that Brind’Amour justifiably tries to lean on the most. Kudos to Calvin de Haan for being a strong complement for Faulk, and kudos to Justin Faulk for being equally strong in his own right. As someone who has been incredibly hard on Faulk’s defensive play over the past two years, it is important that I give credit where it is due.  ...
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