Against the New York Islanders, the Carolina Hurricanes got a physically demanding series. Like a bad heavyweight boxer, New York swung haymakers from planted feet. Carolina danced around, taking hits when they had to, and landing blows that counted. So far in Round 1, it’s been nothing but speed from the New Jersey Devils in Raleigh. For Games 1 and 2, the Hurricanes played to their speed game and left the Devils in their corner licking wounds. Game 3, however, got a little bit rougher. The Canes and Devils combined for 79 hits, but this physicality is much different than that of the Islanders series for the Hurricanes. It was the Canes style of physical play. Carolina’s brand of physical game is best demonstrated by the shift that led to Stefan Noesen dropping the gloves with our “frienemy?” Erik Haula.
Lets get the actual fisticuffs out of the way.
It would go without saying that Noesen got the better of the scrap, but what was impressive about the brouhaha was the entire sequence leading up.
Most concerning about the Islanders series was that Carolina kept having hits shoved in their face. As Caniacs, we know speed is the name of the game for the Hurricanes, and being drawn in to a slug fest is never going to end well for Carolina. New York did their best, and bloodied the Canes, but speed, and scoring potential saved Carolina from having to toe the Islanders’ line for much longer.
In Game 3, Carolina drew New Jersey in close and then landed quick ones that would, normally, leave a team on the canvas. This shift from Sebastian Aho, Seth Jarvis, and Stefan Noesan shows that drawing in. They bounce Haula around like a pinball and he pays the price. Besides Erik Haula had been crashing around all game looking for something.
Aho sets the trap by hitting Haula, knowing he is going to pop up ready to lay someone out. (Un)lucky for Haula, Jarvis just happens to be there, and Haula really does not get that great of a hit on him. Jarvis takes the pop and continues bouncing around like the wet behind the ears puppy dog he is. Noesen cleans up with an absolute smack down on Erik Haula.
Carolina might have lost 8-4 in Game 3 but it is encouraging to see the Hurricanes dictate the physical game. If New Jersey wants to play fast, Carolina can play fast. When the Devils think they can kick it into higher gear, the Hurricanes to slow things down with their style of physical game.
And, Carolina just has so much more experience. New Jersey is going to try everything in their playbook, only to wear themselves down. All the Hurricanes have to do is avoid the punches, then pop when they see the best shot.
I get the bad blood between Erik Haula and the Carolina Hurricanes. I get too that Haul and Stefan Noesen have been chirping all series. Still this sequence from the Aho, Jarvis, Noesen line epitomizes the way Carolina should be physical. Using speed to avoid a blundering battle, yet still laying the wood when necessary.
(PS. Stefan Noesen had the clear advantage in not having to keep his hair out of his face like Erika Haula. Come’on Haula, looking good while you’re getting the timber laid to you isn’t a thing)