Cary, NC — It’s been a rough week for Canes fans, watching the team get deeper and deeper in the hole of their best-of-7 battle with the Boston Bruins. Here’s the game 3 and 4 recap.
Canes Lose Game 3 and Svech
The big surprise announcement before the third game was Tuukka Rask’s announcement he would return home to be with his family.
During his press interview after game 2, Rask made a comment how the playoffs seem more like a preseason game and was visually not happy about being forced to give the post game interview. I’m sure his teammates fully respect Rask’s decision but it may have been easier to accept if he decided not to come at all rather than bail during the playoffs.
The Bruins put Jaroslav Halak in net who is a respectable backup but the new backup has never played an NHL game yet. A surprise like Rask’s decision can give a team a boost for that extra support for the goalie. Halak went on to back the Bruins to a 3-1 win and more importantly, take a 2-1 series lead.
Mrazek Back in Net
The Bruins won the initial faceoff and started laying the lumber on both the puck and anyone wearing a black sweater as it was a very physical game. The Canes had double their highest shot total of the first round so far with 15 on net, with about 6 being serious scoring chances.
Good idea for lots of shots against a ‘cold’ keeper but Halak quickly found his rhythm. Roddy kept Andrei Svechnikov on a line with Vincent Trocheck and Martin Necas while Nino Niederreiter joined Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen. While the shots favored the Canes, the puck possession favored the Bruins, something that is usually a Canes advantage. That couldn’t have sat well with Roddy.
Give the Bruins credit as they were the more aggressive team in the first and taking the body more than the puck. Both teams exchanged power plays early in the period with both defenses shutting down any attempts. Late in the first, Trevor van Riemsdyk thought he was innocent as an altar boy when called for high sticking but not only was it a penalty, he drew 2 drops of blood for a 4 minute penalty with just 2 minutes left in the period.
Brind’Amour Saves $25,000 By Keeping Quiet
The Canes killed the first two minutes of the penalty but on the first rush of the second period, Petr Mrazek made a save with the rebound going chest high for a lob pitch for Charlie Coyle to bat it in for the first goal. Less than 2 minutes later with the play deep in the Canes end, the Bruins had excellent possession. Just as the Canes cleared the zone, the refs stopped play as Dougie Hamilton was flat on the ice.
Caniacs had to be initially worried that whatever injury he had that kept him out of the Qualifier round came back but replays showed he was hit in the head with a Bruin stick. This wouldn’t be the first no call for a stick to Hamilton’s head as it happened again late in the period, this time right in front of a ref but still no call.
The Bruins had a postseason high 20 shots on goal during the period while limiting the Canes to 8. The Canes were frequently chasing the puck and were not clearing the puck from their defensive zone with authority. Corrections that Brind’Amour would address during the second intermission.
It wouldn’t be a game without a controversial call on a Canes goal. Midway in the period with the 4th line on the ice, the puck slid under Halak with the keeper flattening his glove on the puck. No replays had visibility of the puck but just by glove positioning and where the puck was when it became visible was too close for Roddy to challenge or more so, give his honest opinion to the officials.
Niederreiter Gets Canes On The Board
The Canes came out in the third with the sense of urgency they needed as they had to change game tactics. They had the early control in the period, finding their legs, much better forechecking and better shots. The Bruins had an early penalty, teeing up a golden opportunity to tie the game. The powerplay just couldn’t get organized and good hustle by public enemy number one, Brad Marchand, tipped the puck to Sean Kuraly who stuffed in a short handed goal.
The Canes dug in and started playing their best hockey of the game after that debacle. The dump and chase tactic was paying off as the Canes were taking over the possession with the Bruins doing a little turtle defense. The Canes were on a powerplay at the 6 minute mark when they dumped the puck in for a line change with just El Nino ragging the puck up front.
Halak stopped the puck behind the net and rather than pass off to his defender in the corner, turned around and tried to sling the puck the entire length of the ice. El Nino was in the right place at the right time as he raised his left arm, knocking the puck down. After settling the puck, he put in a backhander to cut the lead in half.
Very late in the game Jaccob Slavin carried the puck deep along the near boards sending a wrister to the net. It either went high or bounced off the pipe but then hit a ref square in the left side of the head. He had to go off for repairs, but being the playoffs, the backup ref came on the ice.
Unfortunately on the same play, Svech was muscling for position with Zadano Chara in the dirty area in front of the goal. Just as Svech was making a move to turn, Chara put his right thigh behind Svech’s leg while using his elbow to force Svech down. At this point in his career, Chara is not a dirty player or needs any help in his defense but Svech went down and replays showed it’s going to be either a bad ankle or knee injury.
Either body part is not supposed to twist like they did. I would be surprised if he’s back for the remainder of the playoffs. The Canes pulled Mrazek with 2:02 left and the Bruins put in an empty netter with half a minute left. Mrazek got the second star of the game which was well deserved and was easily the best Canes player on the ice.
Canes Let Game 4 Slip Away, Behind 3-1 in Series
Being up 2-0 going into the third then successfully killing another penalty, the Caniacs must have felt this was going to be the game to change things around — but a disastrous third period led to a 4-3 loss. Give the Bruins credit as they are as solid and balanced of a team in the NHL, but defensive breakdowns on just about all 4 Bruin goals is just unacceptable.
Despite the ugly look on replays, looks like the ankle injury to Andrei Svechnikov is not as bad as initially thought. He’s wearing just a medical boot, and from experience, if it was any worse, he would be using crutches. Ryan Dzingel rolled back into the lineup and had an outstanding game.
Williams Backs Word, Nets First Goal
The Canes came out as they had to, knowing this was a huge game. Going down 3 games to 1 against the Bruins would be a big hole to climb out. The big change was the efficiency on faceoffs, which is normally a patented part of the Canes.
In the first 3 games, the Canes averaged 44% rather than their normal 55% but after the first period the Canes won over 60% with every Canes who took a faceoff over the key 50% mark. Winning the faceoffs allows for puck control, both key points Rod Brind’Amour was great at as a player and demands as a coach.
The Canes forechecking was responsible for the Canes first goal. Justin Williams is known as Mr. Game 7 but at his post game post game interview after the last game, he commented this team has more to give and they plan on being around longer. True to his words, Willie scored the first goal of the game on a pretty back and forth passing with Vincent Trocheck and Jake Gardiner.
Dzingel’s net front presence was key in providing a screen that allowed Willie’s shot to find the back of the net. Another big factor early in was the Canes’ man down defense was fantastic this game. The Bruins powerplay is amongst the best in the NHL and between great defense and missed open net shots, the Canes penalty kill units did their jobs.
Martinook Scores on Pretty Play
In a surprise move, Jordan Martinook was promoted to the top line with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen and Roddy must have sensed this was going to be an effective line combination.
The Bruins came out in the second with one thing in mind: taking the body. Maybe it was to wear the Canes down who are a smaller team as the Canes seemed to have their heads more on a swivel this period. When the Canes had the puck, they did what was needed which was to have quick passes and needed to improve in the scoring chances.
In the first, the Bruins only had 6 shots but all were scoring chances whereas the Canes had 7 shots and just 4 were real scoring chances. The Canes had 10 shots in the period but only 7 were critical scoring chances.
Just over the 12 minute mark, Seabass took the puck through the neutral zone along the near board, with Marty on his left wing. Seabass flirted with a long shot but flipped the puck to Marty who sent a wrister just over Jaroslav Halak’s glove for a 2-0 lead. The Canes did not turtle the lead but kept attacking the puck with aggressive forechecking, taking the body and solid defense with James Reimer strong in net.
Then came the third period.
I honestly felt if the Canes killed the tail end of a Dougie Hamilton penalty he was assessed late in the second and repeated their performance from the first two periods, this game would be the equalizer. Then it happened. 6 minutes and 51 seconds that could be the season killer for the Canes as the Bruins scored 4 unanswered goals.
He first was at the 7:26 mark when a puck was cleared by the Bruins into the Canes end with Jake DeBrusk in pursuit. Riemsdyk thought for a second then made the decision to leave the crease. That split second delay was all that was needed to give DeBrusk the advantage, reached the puck sending it behind Riems for the Bruins first goal.
Less than 3 minutes later, former Canes Joaquin Nordstrom circled the Canes net feeding an unmarked Connor Cliftonwho banged it in from 15’ out. Roddy called a timeout and all the blood vessels in his face and neck were visible as he was trying to get the Canes to get back to their game.
Ninety seconds later, after a turnover in the Canes end, the worst of two scenarios happened, the Bruins took the lead and of all people, Brad Marchand with a nifty move on a breakaway. Another 2 and a half minutes later DeBrusk got his second of the game and call it game over. Turbo scored a backhander after Roddy pulled the goalie but clearly too little too late. With their backs clearly against the wall, the Canes need to dig down deep and play how they’re capable of playing for a full 60 minutes.
Next game is Wednesday night — watch it!
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