The Standout Players
The Carolina Hurricanes had a few excellent standout players
There were three to four players yesterday that stood head and shoulders over everyone else. These guys played at a high level and showed that they wanted to be there while many others seemed to be slow starters.
There were also some midway players that seemed noticeable at times such as Nino Niederreiter, who wanted to get on the scoreboard desperately last night. Ryan Dzingel showed some flashes of greatness as well as he almost got on the board a few times on pucks that stayed out because of luck rather than skill.
Morgan Geekie also showed up, especially on the powerplay, with some excellent play to keep the Capitals occupied, but more on that later.
The guys that really stood out last night were Haydn Fleury, Vincent Trocheck, Sami Vatanen, and James Reimer. I will cover the netminding in the next section so let’s table Reimer for now and focus on the three skaters.
Haydn Fleury, clearly not satisfied with being the seventh defender, made an impact on the game yesterday afternoon and was a big factor in ensuring that the Washington Capitals not only had a hard time staying in the offensive zone but also had some difficulty keeping the Hurricanes out of their defensive zone as well.
He was the only defender to finish the game with a net positive plus/minus, which while isn’t an indicating statistic, is still impressive considering he played over five minutes on the penalty kill, more than any other player. He is growing more and more into a shutdown defender with the ability to turn up the ice. Expect him to have earned a roster spot come Sunday.
Vincent Trocheck also showed up big time yesterday. Not only did he score the first Carolina Hurricanes goal since March but he also played a complete offensive game with both powerplay and penalty kill time. His goal was a combination of skill, vision, and pure hustle to get to that loose puck before anyone else:
Speaking players with a lot of time on the ice, in his first time playing as a Carolina Hurricane, Sami Vatanen racked up over 20 minutes, more than any other player. While he was kept off the scoreboard, he showed off an impressive weapon in his ability to fire the puck like a cannon both dangerously and accurately.
That will be important against a team like the Rangers who boast excellent netminding to try and blast one past whomever they set in the net before they get the chance to adjust.
But what about our own Netminding?