Heading into the game, one knew it was going to take a near perfect effort to beat a very good Boston Bruins team on the road. The Hurricanes came pretty close losing 2-0 after playing a scoreless tie for 55 minutes. A couple late miscues ultimately tilted the game in Boston’s favor. In total, the game was more positive than negative, but not getting to overtime because of an avoidable mistake that late hurts.
The game started a bit cautiously. Both teams were sound defensively early on. The Hurricanes held their own in terms of puck possession but really did not generate much offensively in the first period. But that coupled with equally sound defensive play and a matched compete level was enough to get the Hurricanes out of the first period tied at 0-0. I gave the Bruins the slight edge in the period but only by a slim margin.
Out of the gate in the second period, the Hurricanes found a higher gear. They dictated play and had the better of puck possession and also chances. But the Bruins minimized chances and Jaroslav Halak made a few big saves when needed to keep the game scoreless. The Bruins regained momentum and pushed back after the Canes early second period surge, but Canes goalie James Reimer matched Halak save for save. Despite the Bruins ultimately building a shot advantage, I would call the second period a draw with the Hurricanes winning the first half and the Bruins the second half.
Like most of the rest of the game, the third period featured both teams playing pretty sound defensive hockey such that the goalies had a chance on most shots and continued making saves. After playing a pretty sound game and seemingly being on track to head to overtime with a point in their pocket, a couple late lapses quickly turned the night into an unproductive one in the standings. After a long shift in the offensive zone, Jake Gardiner made a poor decision trying to do too much at the offensive blue line instead of safely chucking the puck around the boards and behind the net. The result was a quick rush the other way with tired Canes trying to catch up. The play finished with Gardiner maybe appropriately not quite catching Charlie Coyle who scored the first goal of the game. Maybe with the Canes still trying to recover, Sebastian Aho lost track of David Krejci who scored on a tip to quickly make it 2-0 and convert the game into a ‘what might have been’.
Despite the disappointing result and ending, the game was more positive than negative. The team pushed deep into the game before succumbing to a couple errors. James Reimer acquitted himself well in his second consecutive start. And the Hurricanes showed that they could match up against arguably the NHL’s best.
Player and other notes
1) James Reimer
He had another strong game. With two home games up next, I would expect Brind’Amour to keep Petr Mrazek in the mix, but I think the ice time is shifting in Reimer’s favor right now.
2) 60 minutes…so close
My preview for this game and also others recently noted the need to play a solid 60 minutes. The Hurricanes came within minutes of doing that.
3) Jake Gardiner
He had an early penalty. Then he also had a solid game defensively making a number of good plays…until it happened. Oftentimes, errors can be the unlucky or physical variety where circumstances play a role and some portion of it seems to just be a tough break. But Gardiner’s costly error late in Tuesday’s game was just a poor decision. He had the puck on his stick and tried to do too much at a bad place (at the offensive blue line) at a bad time (at the end of a long shift) instead of making a simple play.
I think most interesting will be to see if this at all moves Brind’Amour. Gardiner has not been one of the team’s six best defensemen thus far this season, and everyone including Brind’Amour knows this. But choosing patience and hoping for progress, Brind’Amour has stood by Gardiner each and every game and rotating Haydn Fleury and Trevor van Riemsdyk in and out of the lineup. While there is reason for showing patience and sticking with Gardiner while he tries to get his feet under him, it will be interesting to see if the fairly direct loss from his error on Tuesday sees hi in the press box probably not on Thursday but maybe soon.
4) Lack of offensive catalysts
First, the Bruins are a great team and are strong defensively, so being shutout by them is not reason to panic. But I do think the Hurricanes are fighting it a bit offensively right now. The team just does not have much for playmaking at the center position. Especially on the road where good teams can focus efforts on Aho’s line, more is needed from the other lines. It will be interesting to see what Brind’Amour does for the long road trip that follows the next couple home games.
Next up for the Hurricanes is a short two-game home stand that starts with San Jose on Thursday and finishes with Minnesota on Saturday before team heads out West for a long road trip.