Canes vs. Rangers 10/16 Recap
As the State Fair comes to town for the annual “what’s the craziest shit we can wrap bacon around and deep fry” contest, the Hurricanes once again hit the road for several contests. This season, that road trip begins in a post-Jeter New York. Despite both of them taking the morning skate, the Canes would be without Sekera and Skinner, and thanks to the injury ninja, John-Michael Liles didn’t even make the trip. Who told this team to put the balm on?
Depending on which team you were pulling for last night (and if you’re reading this, I have a hunch it’s the Canes), the first period was either a bit of a snoozer or a young team sticking to a gameplan of making the fast, angry home team spin their wheels along the boards. I thought the early goings were fantastic from the visiting team. After consecutive bad losses where Lundqvist looked uncharacteristically shaky, New York was likely to come out and overwhelm Carolina. But in the first ten minutes or so, it felt a lot like watching a football team stick to the ground game and not snap the ball with more than 5 seconds on the play clock. It was all about disrupting the Rangers’ rhythm, and it sure seemed to work.
Moving into the second, more of the same gameplan was in effect. Against a team with speedy players like Krieder, Hagelin, Zuccarello, and noted Canes killer Martin St. Louis, I was quite content with lulling the blueshirts and their supporters to sleep. Fast forward to the closing minutes of the period and the good guys took their first lead of the season on a Chris Terry bullet from the point through heavy traffic. Though the Canes were outshot 12-5 in the period, they carried a 1-0 lead into the intermission, thanks in no small part to the outstanding play of Anton Khudobin, who is awesome.
The pace of play picked up a bit in the 3rd period, and eventually that led to the Rangers getting a goal similar to the one Terry scored. Derick Brassard fired one through traffic and past Khudobin for their only goal. Yada yada yada, roughly ten minutes later, we’re headed to overtime, and the Carolina Hurricanes point streak now stands at two!
In the overtime session, Peters played the guys who earned time. After Tuesday night’s game where the decision to not play Boychuk-Nash-Terry (yes, I know it’s 4-on-4 in OT) in the extra session was questioned, the boys got some practice in that scenario. Riley Nash was a defensive magician in overtime, forcing three turnovers on one shift. Only a combined 5 shots made their way on net in overtime, and… gulp, we’re headed to a shootout.
Mats Zuccarello opened the shootout with perhaps the most half-assed attempt I’ve seen in quite some time, and Khudobin made an easy glove save standing up. The next 3 shooters: Semin, Stempniak, and Terry (who didn’t score in the shootout for the first time in his NHL career) all were blanked. Then came Rick Nash who put up goals in the first 4 games of season, and he made a nice move past Dobby and won the game for New York after Ryan Murphy was denied a moment later.
All in all, I liked the effort from the Canes, I liked the play of a lot of young guys (granted, we don’t have too many “old guys”), and I liked the coaching.
Faceoffs: The Canes won 44 of 67 faceoffs last night. Three players (McClement, Rask, Nash) took at least 10 on the night, and Rask had the lowest faceoff percentage of the three at 61%. McClement was 15/22 (68%), and Nash, for the second straight game, was amazing in the circle. He won 17 of 24 draws, good for 71%!
Anton Khudobin: It was shown on the broadcast last night that Khudobin has the second highest save percentage of active goalies with at least 50 starts. Can we just go ahead and officially name him the #1 goalie on this club? Please? Local media is on board!
Penalty Kill: They were active, created a couple shorthanded chances, and didn’t give up a powerplay goal. I don’t want to put TOO much stock in it since the Rangers haven’t scored a powerplay goal all year, but progress is good.
Team Defense: The blueliners all played a solid game. They played strong, tight coverage all night, were physical when they needed to be, and save for a Gleason interference penalty in the first and a brainfart shift from Faulk late, I really liked what I saw on all 3 pairings last night.
Alex Semin: I hate that I need to make this disclaimer, but this is not an attack on the player or his salary or any of those triggers. Now that THAT’s out of the way: A top line player should have an impact on the game, and Semin didn’t last night. For the second game in a row, Semin didn’t make things happen when he was on the ice. While he had a shot on goal (bringing his total to 1 in the last 2 games), he was largely irrelevant last night. His ice time was reflective that Peters likely felt the same way, as he was limited to 14:10 (7th among forwards) and didn’t see the ice in overtime. Yes, he was facing tight coverage most of the evening, but a player of his skill level and track record should still be able to put pucks on net despite some players having the nerve of stepping up on him.