Cary, NC — Following their sweep of the NY Rangers in the Qualifier Round, the Carolina Hurricanes have started off the frist-round series against the Bruins. Here’s the rundown of the first two games of the best-of-7 series.
Game 1: Bruins, Refs Beat Canes in Double OT, 4-3
The Carolina Hurricanes started their official 2020 Playoff with an overtime loss of 4-3 against the Boston Bruins. The NHL called the first series ‘Qualifier Round’ but the playoff rules and records apply so in reality, it was the Playoffs. The Canes were forced to have their first game rescheduled until Wednesday morning as the Tampa Bay v. Columbus game went halfway through the 5th overtime before Tampa won.
The funniest comment during that game was in the 4th OT period, a sign went up saying, “Time For That 7th Period Stretch,” on take-off from baseball.
Foegele Starts Play, Edmundson Finishes
The Canes came out a little rusty in the first as evidence of the week layoff with initial sluggishness, poor forechecking, weak hits and Coach Rod Brind’Amour getting in the ear of every player on the bench. It didn’t take but a couple of shifts to get the message, Roddy is influential that way, for the Canes’ high gear to kick in.
The Bruins had the early shot advantage but goalie Petr Mrazek was sharp with his angles, aggressive in the crease and had great rebound control. If you listened closely, you could hear Mrazek barking to his defense throughout the game. The Canes struck first on a great looking play that was set up by Warren Foegele.
Foegs was aggressively forechecking in the Bruins’ end, stole the puck dropping a soft pass to Sebastian Aho fresh on the ice from a line change. Seabass sent another soft drop pass to Teuvo Teravainen as he entered the zone who in turn dropped a backhander lead pass to Joel Edmundson.
Edmundson jumped over the boards, cranked up a hard slap shot that beat Tuuka Rask to put the Canes up by 1. Late in the period the Bruins won a faceoff to the right of Mrazek. On a set play, David Pastrnak went behind Jaccob Slavin to the left corner of the crease. Slavs lost his footing for a nanosecond that Pastrnak just enough time to tie the game.
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The second period saw the game shift from a game between two teams to one that had some of the worst officiating I’ve seen in professional sports.
For those of us that played sports, you always think the other team had the refs on their side. Fans pay good money to watch teams battle it out and officials certainly have their place but whether it was incompetence (doubtful), or big market versus small market (possibly doubtful) but the officiating was not good.
Instead of being invisible, they became a factor. Early in the period, the puck popped above the heads of several players at the top right of the crease. With his long reach and athleticism, Slavs palmed the puck but Nick Ritchie blocked in down to the ice, Anders Bjork pushed it to the crease and Mrazek put his glove on it.
Bruins’ Ritchie and Bjork hit Mrazek’s glove, knocking the puck to Charlie Coyle who put it in an empty net with Nino Niederreiter trying to use his body to block the shot. First, it was a non-call on the hand pass by Ritchie, then another non-call with Mrazek’s glove smothering the puck.
Roddy challenged the call and very surprisingly lost the challenge resulting in a delay of game penalty. With the Bruins playing catch up top, Brock McGinn intercepted a pass then put on his jets to out hustle his defender to the goal. Ginner went right down Broadway faked forehand left, head faked then sent a pretty backhander top shelf for a great looking shortie. Even the hockey gods knew the Bruins goal was a bad call.
Fleury Sends Game Into OT
The Bruins won the opening faceoff for the third period, putting the puck in the Canes end. There was some sloppy play by both teams going for the loose puck in the mid slot area with swipes by 5 different players. The puck slid to the near circle to David Krejci all alone on bad coverage by the Canes defense.
Krejci took 2 strides to the goal, with Mrazek left out to dry, took his own swipe at the puck by put Krejci easily stick handled around Mrazek and slid the puck in with his long reach. The Canes dug deep after that goal and had most of the possession putting more shots on goal in the third period than they did in both the 1st and 2nd periods combined while keeping the Bruins to just 7 shots on net.
Midway in the period, Vincent Trocheck regained the puck in the Bruins end passing up to Haydn Fleury on the right point. Fleury skated to the middle, saw plenty of traffic in front sending a wrister hoping for the best. His hope was answered with his first-ever playoff goal to knot the game at 3 apiece.
The first OT saw the refs do what they do best in overtime, swallow their whistles only to get both teams chirping for obvious calls. Fortunately, there wasn’t a microphone on the Canes bench as Roddy was, and for good reasons, livid. Late in the period, Brady Skjei carried the puck end to end only to have his stick not only slashed but broken right in front of a ref. No call.
Skjei gets another stick and is shoulder to shoulder with Charlie Coyle deep in the Canes end with both going down and Skjei immediately gets called for holding. The Canes killed off the penalty late in the first OT with the balance in the 2nd OT but another poor defensive coverage by the Canes allowed Patrice Bergeron to wrist one past Mrazek with just 1:13 gone in the 2nd OT. Roddy has to tell the players to let this game go. Bury it. Only consolation is those refs won’t be doing the second game but the big market/small market doesn’t change.
The NHL is all about big markets which had to be a factor in extending the playoffs to allow both Chicago and Montreal in, but give them credit. Both survived the qualifier round.
Game 2: Canes Tie Series With 3-2 Win
After a game that had many disappointments just over 24 hours earlier, the Canes had the strong start and fortitude needed to get back on track. This game had its own moments with cheap shots, questionable calls and questionable no-calls, but the Canes still came out on the better side of the 3-2 score.
It was a full 20 man effort that was fun and exciting to watch. If this was a home game for the Canes, the Caniacs may have broken another decibel record as the intensity was fantastic.
Roddy Shuffles Line Up
Coach Rod Brind’Amour made a few line-up changes for the second game on both offensive lines and back on defense. Edmundson took a shot to the head in another no-call in game 1 and was held out for precautionary reasons. Trevor van Riemsdyk got the call for his first 2020 postseason action.
Roddy also broke up the SAT line which is Andrei Svechnikov, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, putting Svech on a line with Vincent Trocheck and Martin Necas.Svech didn’t have his A game for game 1, but the move probably had as much logic to mix up talent to keep the Bruins top defensive line from concentrating on the Canes top forward line.
The Canes had a much better start than the day before. Using the old hockey term, everyone started on time. Justin Williams was also in this line up with Nino Niederreiter being the healthy scratch, who by my view had an excellent game 1.
The Canes outshot the Bruins in the opening period, 7-6 but only a few challenged Tuuka Rask and most of those were on the Canes lone powerplay. I would rate the powerplay a B as while they had moments of great possession, the shot selection wasn’t ideal. Shortly after the powerplay, Willie took a shot in the high slot that bonked Jordan Staal in the back of his head.
Staal first went down then got his wits back, following the puck into the far corner pasting two Bruins against the boards right in front of the ref. As Staal was trying to break free, one of the Bruins grabbed Staal’s helmet, taking it off his head, breaking the strap in the process, throwing it to the ice. League rules define that as a penalty but what may be unwritten is if it’s a big market team. Another terrible no-call.
Just seconds later, Brady Skjei got called for holding, giving the Bruins a powerplay. During the man advantage, Brock McGinn broke his stick and gave the Bruins talented powerplay an easy opportunity to go one up—which they did.
Svechnikov, Teravainen Put Canes Up
From the drop of the first puck in the second, you could see the Canes answering the chippiness with more physicality. Brind’Amour isn’t big on cheap shots but knows when your team is getting hammered in what normally would be a call, you have to play back alley hockey.
Roddy was fined $25,000 for comments about the “crime scene” that took place in game 1 and in the second period with what appeared to be similar officiating, all Roddy could do was hold his arms up as if he was saying “I give up.”
Svech was involved in a minor altercation which suits him just fine and raises his level. On his next shift, TVR slapped the puck from the left point around the back of the Bruins net. Marty Necas snared the puck, made a precise centering pass to Svech who had one of the quickest releases I’ve ever seen to put the Canes on the board.
Just over a minute later, the Canes lost the puck in the Bruins end but Svech, with his long reach, stole the puck and made a blind backhand pass right onto the tape of Turbo who threaded the needle to put the Canes up by 1.
With the puck deep in the Canes end, Turbo was in his position near the far boards facing towards the end when a Bruins player ran into Turbo. Turbo got an interference call which was another mystery for Roddy. Bruins scored their second
powerplay with just 5 seconds left in the period.
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Roddy had to lead by example in the locker room and must have told the team to forget the bad calls in the first two periods and just concentrate on the third. The Canes forechecking was spot-on and checks were being finished.
The Canes had the puck deep and with a sea of humanity in front of the crease, Turbo gets pushed into Rask. Turbo tries, and succeeds, to avoid taking Rask out when Skjei sends the puck into the crease. The puck hits Rask bounces up, hits a
defender then lands in the goal.
Of course no goal, this is a small market team.
Tripp Tracey, before the review was over, said this was a good goal ‘10 out of 10 times’. The Canes were resilient and stayed with their plan—forecheck, forecheck, forecheck.
Dougie Hamilton put the Canes up 3-2 in what turned out to be the game winner off a very nice pass from Necas. The
Bruins had their chances late in the game but James Reimer was solid in net. The series is tied 1-1 with the next game on Saturday, August 15 at noon with the Canes the “home” team which helps on line changes and faceoffs. Watch it!
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