Well that looks more in line with what’s to be expected. The Hawks play an obviously better team, keep it close for long enough through a couple of highly skilled plays including a flash from a kid, while the deeper truths about how far this team has to go are ultimately revealed. It’s not that losses are good, except when they are. It’s about the results matching the output, and the Hawks have been mauled for three straight games at times, and only once by a team with any kind of hope whatsoever. To the bullets.
- Calvin de Haan and Nikita Zadorov each had characteristic turds of games, combining forces to run around and treat the puck like a hot potato on Nino Niederreiter’s first goal. de Haan then managed to bat the puck behind Kevin Lankinen for the Canes’ go-ahead goal, and Zadorov had a front row seat for their fourth. Neither are particularly suited for the type of defensive zone coverage that they’re being asked to execute by Jeremy Trestman as neither has the speed to stay on the hip of their man throughout the zone, nor the passing ability to quickly get the puck to the forwards in the off chance they end up with it. Zadorov’s issues compound given that he has rocks in his head and is overly aggressive at the exact wrong times, and then was somehow completely passive staying on the far post and weakly reaching at Nino in front on his second goal, even after Duncan Keith had rotated out on the strong side to front the shooter. Even if it’s not customary to maul a guy in front anymore across the league, at 6’6″ 240, Zadorov should be able to box a man in front out if only by planting his ass there. Bonus demerits for Zadorov obliterating the Dear Sweet Baby Boy Tuevo.
- While it’s not a state secret or particularly novel, the Canes were able to suffocate the Hawks in neutral ice the way the Hawks used to do to other teams in the Gilded Age- back pressure from the forwards. The top three lines of the Hurricanes all have plus speed with the possible exception of Jordan Staal who makes up for it otherwise, and their pursuit is able to funnel puck carriers to a top-end defensive corps that is able to knife the puck away or at the very least prevent clean entry.
- That said, even if Petr Mrazek comes back in short order, the Canes need to seriously evaluate whether he or James Reimer can be trusted to get by Tampa this post season, as their goaltending has been their weak spot since this team started to come together in its current iteration. James Reimer is who he is, and this is what it looks like when he is given a full starter’s workload even out of necessity. Fortunately for him the Canes have been scoring by the barrel-full so far this year, but it’s a wonder why they were not more aggressive this past off season with all the goalies changing locations league-wide, and now they may have to give up assets to fortify the crease in the next few weeks.
- And clearly Reimer hasn’t seen the tape of Garbage Dick attempting the backhand spin-o-rama at least once every other game despite it not working since 2013 against Dallas. Still that’s a rough couple games for Brett Pesce getting posterized by that and by Jonathan Huberdeau on Wednesday night.
- Ian Mitchell showed exactly what he has been billed as on his late 2nd period tally, confidently moving into the high slot on his forehand and wiring a low shot through traffic in full stride with his head up the entire time. Mitchell has obviously had some issues in his own end as all young, mobile defensemen do, but this display certainly warrants him getting a look on the second power play unit, as Nicolas Beaudin hasn’t done jack shit there to this point.
- Speaking of power plays, Ryan Carpenter went from being a healthy scratch for two weeks to getting time on the first unit, truly a tradition unlike any other. It’s not Carpenter’s fault, he’s a serviceable player and he and David Kampf have actually been territorially dominant together with a 57.8% share in 100 minutes, if only they were actually deployed correctly exclusively against top lines. But 48 hours after showing even the slightest bit of vision and creativity by using Boqvist as a rover on that unit, they went back to having a bottom sixer park his ass in front.
- Boqvist is quite fortunate that he still has his head attached to his body this morning. His open field, touchdown saving shoestring tackle of Brett Pesce surely impressed new Bears DC Sean Desai, but in hockey that leads to the Clint Malarchuk/Richard Zednik treatment, and Pesce’s blades narrowly missed Boqvist’s jugular, carotid, and every other vital blood vessel connecting his head to his neck.
- The Hawks now have an unplanned mini break with this impromptu rescheduling, not playing until Tuesday in Columbus. Hopefully in that time Connor Murphy can resume skating, and that can give either Zadorov or de Haan to enjoy the Nationwide Arena catering spread.