I recently wrote an article titled “Shut Up And Don’t Play The Hits” which is a spin on Shut Up and Play the Hits, a 2012 documentary film directed by Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace that follows LCD Sound system front man James Murphy. In it, Murphy talks about the strain on musicians taking new music to old fans in hopes of drawing in new fans, and the pull to play the hits to the delight of old fans but the confusion of new fans.
In this article I talked about how Carolina wins when they avoid the big hits and play so fast that the other team cannot get to them. Like playing songs off the new record, Carolina has capitalized on their adapting to the new “playoff style” hockey that is far less physical and much faster.
It was necessary to play “one of the new record” against the New York Islanders, but that strategy worked very well in Round 1. Although Carolina came out of the battle bruised and busted, they ultimately played fast enough to dodge most of what New York threw at them. When the hits did come, they were glancing and did not slow down the Hurricanes too much.
Against the New Jersey Devils, Carolina reversed the narrative and actually hit the Devils 169 times in 5 games. Throughout the series, Carolina took the hits to the Devils rather than reacting to them as they did against the Islanders. This slowed the Devils down and had the added benefit of putting Carolina in scoring positions.
Of course, if we are shutting up and playing the hits, as LCD Soundsystem’s documentary suggests, we cannot forget Stef Noesan absolutely lighting up Erik Haula.
And if that isn’t enough, even Stormy got in on the action
If it’s more new songs or greatest hits will be determined on who Carolina draws. Either way Carolina will certainly have to make adjustments to whomever they play in the Eastern Conference Finals. The good thing is, the Hurricanes have shown they can do either and do them both well.
Carolina will certainly see a much more goonish style of play resembling the New York Islanders should they face the Florida Panthers next. Florida was in the bottom 10 in hits in the regular season with 1,755, but had the 2nd most penalty minutes in the NHL behind the Ottawa Senators.
Even with the added rest the Canes earned by wrapping up early, it might be for naught if they step into another bloody series against Florida. Certainly a “lets try one we’ve been working on” strategy would suit the Hurricanes, and skating fast enough to avoid the big hits would be preferred.
Right below the Panthers in hits with 1,756 were the Toronto Maple Leafs. Should the Leafs pull a massive comeback and beat the Panthers to face the Hurricanes in the finals, they might expect a more physical game from the Hurricanes. Though the Leafs are just slightly less physical than the Panthers, they are far less penalized (in the middle of the NHL pack), which reads to me in favor of the Hurricanes. Carolina can expect a much more disciplined series, and more opportunity to play their speed game. And the Hurricanes can pull out their old chestnuts, and play the hits when needed.
Carolina’s style is really set up for playoff hockey. Speed and scoring threats are the name of the game anymore, and that showed in Round 2 against the New Jersey Devils. Using their speed, Carolina wins when they can dictate the physicality. Depending on who they draw next will determine if Carolina will need to shut up and play the hits, or play some stuff off the new record.