Game 4 Showed The Black Aces Can Step Into The Breach For Canes

Apr 23, 2023; Elmont, New York, USA; Carolina Hurricanes left wing Mackenzie MacEachern (28) celebrates his goal against the New York Islanders during the third period in game four of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at UBS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 23, 2023; Elmont, New York, USA; Carolina Hurricanes left wing Mackenzie MacEachern (28) celebrates his goal against the New York Islanders during the third period in game four of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at UBS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports /
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Already, Carolina’s Black Aces for the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs have been critical as the physical nature of New York’s style has knocked Teuvo Teräväinen out with a broken hand and in the 1st period of Game 4 Jack Drury off the ice with a likely concussion. Since being called up from the now independent Chicago Wolves, these Carolina Hurricanes can actually add some much needed offensive firepower.

Mackenzie MacEachern was the first of the Black Aces to start with the Canes in Game 4. He started Carolina’s 4th line with Paul Stastny and Jesse Puljujarvi. At the 13:30 mark of the 2nd period MacEachern helped Sebastian Aho set the Carolina Hurricanes All-Time Playoff Scoring record with his 20th goal at the 13:30 mark of the 2nd period in Game 3. It also scored his 2nd playoff point with his 1st playoff goal on an unassisted goal at 14:01 in the 3rd period to make the game 5-1. MacEachern only played 37 games with Chicago, but made the most of them with 30 points (7 of those were powerplay goals). He also has the most NHL experience of the call ups. Between 2018 and 2022, MacEachern had 115 games with the St. Louis Blues. In that period of time he had 11 goals and 8 assists.

Jamieson Rees could very well be the next Black Ace to step into the breach for the Hurricanes. As a Center, he might slot in for Paul Stastny if needed on the 4th line. Rees played 65 games with the Wolves this year and sported career highs across the board. On the year, Rees lit the lamp 14 times and  posted 28 assists, the most for Rees who has 3 years and change in the AHL. He was also with the 2021-2022 Chicago Wolves that won the Calder Cup.

Given the gaps in the line up Carolina faces, Ryan Suzuki could definitely add some much needed offense for the Hurricanes. Over 50 games, Suzuki had 32 points with 13 of those coming as goals. He certainly does not have the game experience of Rees and MacEachern but it would not surprise anyone if he picked up shifts just the later series to rest a 4th line Center. Of the Black Ace, Suzuki has the second most offensive production so it is possible he slots for a  2nd Round Game 1 to spell for a Center.

As good a season Max Lajoie had, he has to be the least likely of the Black Aces to see any action for the Hurricanes. Carolina’s defense is just too stacked as both a stalwart defensive unit, and the most productive offensive component in Canes’ playbook. Still Lajoie could pull his own weight and then some. With 63 games for the Wolves he tallied 11 goals and 34 assists. Along with Rees, and MacEachern, Max Lajoie has the 2022 Calder Cup win with Chicago in his back pocket.  With 18 games, and 8 points in those games, he is certainly capable of pulling punches on playoff ice.

Finns get wins with the Carolina Hurricanes but I would be very surprised

EDMONTON, AB – AUGUST 17: Ville Koivunen #24 of Finland skates during the game against Germany in the IIHF World Junior Championship on August 17, 2022 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (Photo by Andy Devlin/ Getty Images)
EDMONTON, AB – AUGUST 17: Ville Koivunen #24 of Finland skates during the game against Germany in the IIHF World Junior Championship on August 17, 2022 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (Photo by Andy Devlin/ Getty Images) /

he gets any wins this playoff season as a Black Ace. The 20 year old Finn had just 12 games with the Wolves having spent most of the season with Kärpät. In 52 games he racked up 12 goals and 16 assists, but as a right winger the Hurricanes hopefully will not have a place for him in the line-up.

Finally, there is Zachary Sawchenko who had a fair to middling 2022-23 season. Sawchenko finished the season with a 3.10 GAA and .895 SV%. Given Carolina’s goaltending situation, with Antti Raanta playing on his head, and Poytr Kochetkov a very capable back up, Sawchenko is in Raleigh for the Black Ace experience but will not see ice time. If Frederik Andersen is ever health there will be three goaltenders ahead of Sawchenko mean something terrible would happen to see him on the ice.

As MacEachern showed in Game 4, with 2 points, the Black Aces Carolina picked up from Chicago can earn their salt if needed. With key injuries coming early in the playoffs, the Canes will have to rely on their depth. It is likely Mackenzie MacEachern, Jamieson Rees, and  Ryan Suzuki will see some action in the 2023 Playoffs.