A Total Lack of Aggression
Without desperation, the Carolina Hurricanes looked like an average team today.
What I remember most about the qualifying round series against the New York Rangers is not the Svechnikov hat trick or when James Reimer stood on his head for the game-three victory. What I remember is the aggression and desperation that the Hurricanes harnessed each game. No puck left the offensive zone without a fight, and the blue line was held like a brick wall.
Today, there was hardly a shade of this aggression. Passes were sloppy. The Hurricanes lost most races to the puck and gave up on far too many offensive opportunities. The team that dominated the Rangers offensively and defensively did not show up to play today.
Unfortunately, part of this struggle was most apparent in the power play. Games two and three have contained abysmal power plays by the Hurricanes. The power-play unit struggled to settle the puck enough to gain a comfortable rhythm, and even scoring opportunities are created like during the first power play today there is no rush to recover the puck after shots.
A productive power play is reflective of a team that excels at capitalizing on offensive opportunities while working as a cohesive unit. The Canes power-play unit was not productive today, and left little room for optimism in five versus five hockey.
Above all, the Canes need to work on entering the defensive zone and settling the puck. Once the team was able to do this today, scoring opportunities were ample. An effective power play will continue to be key in this series and will help the Canes turn the momentum in game four.
Finally, let’s examine what elements of today’s game the Hurricanes must build on for game four on Monday.