Learning from Regular Season Mistakes
The Carolina Hurricanes kept pucks out of the net.
Rebound control was something that the Carolina Hurricanes struggled with throughout the season. Whether goals resulted in teams capitalizing off of rebounds or pucks left behind the blue line that was not cleared quickly enough, this was a problem that the team had trouble shaking.
For the qualifying round series against the Rangers, not only was the rebound control of both Petr Mrazek and James Reimer excellent, but each defensive duo on the ice was committed to seeing the puck out of the zone.
This is encapsulated in a moment that will live in infamy in Canes’ history and on NHL highlight reels for years. James Reimer makes a beautiful butterfly save but then loses the puck in the chaos. Jaccob Slavin and Sami Vatanen are instrumental in keeping the puck out of the net, as Sami Vatanen blocks the last shot attempt with his shoulder behind Reimer who is out of the net.
Although Reimer and Mrazek certainly had their moments where they were tested, the Canes’ blueliners excelled in cutting off offensive chances for the Rangers before they could start. The Rangers were held to four total goals in three games.
Among the defensive standouts was newcomer Sami Vatanen. Because Vatanen was set to debut in the qualifying round, fans were skeptical about the impact the former New Jersey Devil could make. I am pleased to say that not only did Vatanen excel in the qualifying round, he certainly made a case for a contract based on this performance.
Offensively, Vatanen acquired three assists in three games. This makes him third on the scoring leader board for the Canes in the 2020 playoffs. Defensively, the play above is just one example of how Vatanen made himself known in every play. He averaged 20:05 minutes on ice, sharing the top line spot with Jaccob Slavin.
Next up, we revisit the key to offensive production.