This new endeavor at Canes and Coffee has been in the works for awhile now but has been pushed behind day-to-day coverage with the season starting and just time limitations. But with the Carolina Hurricanes continuing to sputter a bit, the timing could not be better to introduce something new and hopefully fun — The Bus.
As is the case with anything new, ‘The Bus’ will likely evolve and take on a life of its own over time, but the general idea is to offer something (positive) for the old fans and and something (learning) for the new.
Something (positive) for the old
With another roller coaster ride of a season underway, being a Hurricanes fan has its ups and downs. And I think Canes and Coffee does a disservice to the Hurricanes loyal but also hockey-knowledgeable fan base if it goes “100% sunshine” marketing and tries to pretend that absolutely everything is awesome when it is not. I pride myself on leaning positive but being able to objectively comment on and analyze the team.
But balanced coverage aside, I wanted to carve out an oasis that is only positive and also recognizes that sports fandom as a hobby is supposed to be mostly fun even when things are not going perfectly.
So part 1 of ‘The Bus’ will be a small cubby hole that offers only positive Hurricanes articles.
Something for the new
Another thing that I have tried to do but not yet figured out how to do really well is to help grow our fan base. We are clearly back to a point where we as a Hurricanes hockey community need to grow our ranks. From being in the midst of the 3 deep playoff runs, I am 100% certain that Raleigh can be a tremendous professional hockey market. But largely due the the challenges of the performance on ice, we just are not there right now. On top of that, there is a positive energy that comes from new and enthusiastic fans.
So part 2 of ‘The Bus’ will aim to help the next generation of new Hurricanes fans grow with the game, our and our rich Hurricanes hockey history.
Canes and Coffee would greatly appreciate any and all help pointing new or potentially new Hurricanes fans to this new section. The core of the site’s reach right now is the existing fan base, so we need help getting this in front of those who are not yet part of our hockey community.
With the brief introduction aside, here is the installment of what will hopefully be many for “The Bus.” Please hop on!
Something for the old – The future is incredibly bright
For this first installment, let me offer 3 short snippets all from the category of ‘this team is incredibly young and talented and with a bright future’:
Playmaking from the kids: If you take out the red hot Skinner/Rask/Stempniak line, the 2 leading players for assists are defensemen Noah Hanifin and forward Sebastian Aho, both of whom are 19 years old.
Transition to more exciting brand of hockey is underway: After having goal scoring issues in 2015-16, the 2016-17 Hurricanes are off to a fast start offensively. The team is currently seventh out of 30 in the NHL for goals scored per game and fifth overall for power play proficiency. That is a recipe for exciting hockey.
Jeff Skinner for Rocket Richard Trophy: Yes, I realize that we are only 8 games into the season, but right now Jeff Skinner tops the entire NHL in points per game. That is both impressive and fun.
The underlying theme of scoring-related things to be excited about is a great one early in the 2016-17 season.
Something for the new – Understanding the lineup, roster and positions
This section is aimed at new hockey fans who are just learning the game, so it is probably not of interest to long-time hockey fans.
An important starting point for learning about NHL hockey is the lineup, roster and positions. Hockey is generally played 6-on-6 with a goalie and 5 skaters on the ice for each team. (Some other time, I will talk about overtime and power plays which are 2 exceptions to the 6-on-6 norm.)
The game is similar to basketball in the sense that all 5 skaters play both offense and defense. The skaters are comprised of 2 groups. Two defensemen are generally paired and play together, and 3 forwards form a forward “line” and generally play together. The terms “defense pairing” (or just pairing) and “forward line” (or just line) are commonly used to refer to the grouped sets of forwards (who play together) and the defenseman (who play together).
A key difference between hockey and basketball is the frequency of player changes to the 5 players on the ice (plus the goalie) and how it impacts the game. In hockey, players generally play “shifts” of 40-60 seconds before changing players. The nature of an NHL shift is to go out and sprint for much of your 40-60 seconds and then come off the ice. Play does not stop for player changes. Changes can occur while play is in process. The result is a game quite different from basketball in terms of personnel changes because players are constantly going in and out of the game, and a much greater percent of the roster is regularly active in the game.
Another key difference between hockey and many sports is the regular involvement of the entire roster. A hockey lineup is comprised of 20 players which is normally 2 goalies, 6 defensemen and 12 forwards. In a typical game, only 1 goalie plays. The other is there in case of injury or if things are not going well and the coach wants to make a change. The defensemen are split into 3 “pairs.” All 3 pairs usually play regular shifts in a game though the top players will play a bit more. A normal split might be 22-24 minutes for the top pair, 19-21 minutes for the second pair and 16-18 minutes for the bottom pair.
The forwards are split into lines of 3 with a left wing, center and right wing on each line. A “line” generally plays together and goes on and off the ice together. Just like with the defensemen, in a normal game all 12 forwards will see regular action but the top lines will play more than the lower lines.
So a key difference between hockey and other sports is that all players (except backup goalie) generally play a regular role in the game and substitution seems to happen constantly and while the puck is in play.
As noted above, all of the players (again except the goalie) play at both ends of the ice trying to score and also trying to defend somewhat similar to basketball. The game is a little bit like soccer in the sense that where players play on the ice is not completely random. Defensemen as their name implies do have a greater responsibility for defense and most often are the players farther back in the formation of players though still up in the offensive play. And forwards of course play forward and attack trying to score more than the defensemen but do still come back to defend when the other team has the puck.
With the goal of keeping the learning stuff short enough to digest without it being work, I will stop with the basic overview of the roster, positions and roles.
I recognize that this will probably start slowly and (hopefully) gradually build, but I would be absolutely ecstatic if even 1 new hockey fan took a minute to register and ask a question or 2. 🙂
Canes and Coffee invites you to hop on the bus!
If you are interested in being part of a ‘new Canes fans group’ please send a quick email through the web form, add a comment below or reach out on Twitter.