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?