For those who missed it, Canes and Coffee made its return from COVID-19 hiatus on Monday. That article started with some personal thoughts on George Floyd and racism in our society and closed with thoughts on the odd 2020 NHL draft situation. You can find that article HERE.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a first, quick look at the Canes match up against the New York Rangers if/when NHL hockey resumes and jumps straight into the playoffs.
Recent results are not promising
In 2019-20, the Hurricanes lost to the Rangers in all three match ups by 4-2, 3-2 and 5-3 scores. On top of that, the Hurricanes have traditionally struggled against Henrik Lundqvist. At least on paper, the Canes drew a tough first-round match up.
A few notes from the three 2019-20 losses:
–The difference in the games which is often the case in the playoffs was the teams’ top players. In three games, Artemi Panarin had 3 goals and 5 assists, Mika Zibanejad had 3 goals and 1 assist.
–The Rangers young legs seemed to match up well against the Hurricanes. In large chunks of all three games, the Rangers were the aggressor and had the ice tilted toward the Canes’ net.
–With the changing of the guard in process, it is not certain who the Rangers would start, but Lundqvist has historically been a problem for the Canes.
A playoff experience advantage?
Only a year ago, the Hurricanes were riding a decade-long playoff drought and had very little in the way of playoff experience heading into the series against the Washington Capitals. The results and outcome are a mixed bag. On the one hand, the majority of the Canes roster now has three series, 15 games and two series wins of playoff experience from the 2018-19 season. On the other hand, the fact that the inexperienced Canes beat the Capitals in the first round suggests that this is not an advantage that cannot be overcome.
Despite acknowledging that it is far from a guarantee, I still like the idea of the 2019-20 Carolina Hurricanes going into their second consecutive playoffs with a better idea of what it takes to advance.
Fast starts under Rod Brind’Amour
Shortly after the playoff match ups and plan were announced, I noted the Hurricanes early season success and pondered whether that could carry over to a playoff restart that will almost be like the beginning of the season after a three-month layoff and abbreviated training camp. Under Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour the Hurricanes the Hurricanes have generally started quickly. In 2018-19, the Hurricanes were 5-0-1 in preseason and then started the regular season with a 5-0-0 run. In 2019-20, the preseason start was a less stellar 2-3-1 mark, but the Hurricanes again started fast with the same 5-0-0 mark. The situation and also the stakes will be higher jumping straight into the playoffs, but I am optimistically hoping that the way Brind’Amour and company prepare the team for the start of the season will carry over to this restart.
One thing that stood out to me in the 2019-20 losses to the Rangers was the Rangers’ ability to force errors with an aggressive uptempo style. A recurring Achilles’ heel for the 2019-20 Hurricanes has been the team’s lack of attention to details at times. Too many costly errors and coverage breakdowns have been at the root of the Canes downs during the 2019-20 season. By playing fast and pressuring, the Rangers maybe have the ability to bring out the worst in the Hurricanes’ sloppiness.
At the same time, the Rangers have a weird mix on defense of young up and comers with minimal NHL experience and a few veterans who have generally not lived up to how they were slotted when signed to their last contracts. If the Hurricanes can find the forechecking intensity from the 2019 NHL Playoffs, that could represent a tough test for a young group.
The wild card/randomness of the situation
I think the odd circumstances with a long layoff before jumping straight into the playoffs introduces a huge amount of randomness into these first-round playoff match ups making them likely to be very unpredictable.
My 2 cents
Personally, I am not overly concerned about the Canes recent struggles against the Rangers in general. The playoffs are a completely different animal and a fresh start as demonstrated by the Canes series win against the Caps. But at the same time I do see where the Rangers young legs and pressure have the potential to bring out the worst of the 2019-20 Carolina Hurricanes.
Though it also flies in the face of the Canes surprising series win against the Capitals, I like the Hurricanes toting their previous season playoff experience, importantly with success, into the series.
The best against best match up will be interesting the watch. The Hurricanes generally had no answer for Artemi Panarin who was the best player between the two teams in the regular season series.
What say you Canes fans?
1) How much stock do you put in the Canes recent struggles against the Rangers?
2) To what degree do you think the Hurricanes’ quick starts under Brind’Amour are relevant given the immediate jump into playoff hockey?
3) What do you see as the keys to winning this series for each team?
1) I think the return will be a brand new game and I doubt that much of what happened before will matter once things get started.
To put it another way, what you describe as the wildcard nature of the situation is probably the most important of the factors that you mention, and not just for the Canes but for all the teams involved.
2) How do we attribute the fast starts for the past two seasons – a change in culture?, great conditioning at the start?, early emphasis on grit/grind before the other teams get that?
If we can identify reasons for the two fast starts we might be able to assess the likelihood of this being to the Canes’ advantage.
Of course, fast starts were quickly followed by sloppy play so there is that too.
3) I tend to think that coming out of the gate the play of individuals is going to be the primary factor for success, with teams kicking off the rust. We have a lot more stars than do the Rangers so I think that star power may be big for us – with individual players rising to the occasion.
Well, my guess is that RBA will have the team ready to go, and the Canes can out skate most teams! That said, I believe that Rod should put his best skater on Panarin, and try to physically take away his opportunities, and rough him up every time he’s on the ice! I don’t know if that can work, but I know in other sports that I’ve seen it work! Don’t let the best player beat you!
1) Recent history is a little concerning. However, as I have read elsewhere both the Caps and Islanders controlled the regular season matchups last season.
2) The quick starts are a glimmer of extra hope. However, the team taking the ice will be significantly different than the team that started the past two seasons. I worry more about players acclimating—neither Trocheck nor Skjei was productive in their 7 games. Now Vatanen is new to the mix.
3) I think tj makes a good case that top players should make the difference. However, I am not as sanguine. While Svechnikov will eventually be top tier, right now the Rangers have two players equal or better than the Canes best. While Dougie was one of the best in the league early on, his production was only slightly better than DeAngelo. Most importantly the Rangers have one of the best goalies of the past decade and quite possibly one of the best of the next decade. The Rangers would be tough for any team in a 5 game series.
Having written the above, maybe the series will be swung by an unexpected “star.” Foegele was key to the hot starts the past two seasons; Niederreiter might find his mojo from January 2019; Geekie might continue playing like he was. This type of layoff means anyone who is close to certain is not thinking very hard.
I read yesterday’s post and voice my strong support for promoting dialog on recent events even if it may seem out of context. So kudos to you, Matt, for addressing a tough topic in compassionate way. We have a lot of work to do as a nation to become our best version of “e pluribus unum.”
I feel a little like ctcanaic when he says he’s ambivalent about talking about hockey. I am surprised how little I miss it though I’m sure that will change when the first puck drops.
As for the Rangers, let’s just get it on. I’m happy that we’re in the mix and whoever we play has one stout defense to get through, now that we’re fully healthy.
As long as no one else has another comment about CANES vs. NYR, would anyone be interested in discussing the eventual draft?
I’m retired and have a lot of spare time to research potential draft picks! I have a good (maybe fair) idea of the relative value of the top 100-150 potential picks. What I really don’t have is the needs (from the Canes front office) of forwards/ dmen/ goalies…and what they are targeting! The greatest needs , and plans for trading picks, or acquisition of more picks…
Anyone have any information, or “swags” on the “PLAN”?