Luke Schenn

Tampa Bay Lightning: Bringing In Schenn & McElhinney

featured image photo credit – Mark6Mauno/Flickr

The Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t make much of a splash on July 1st, ultimately signing just two true NHL calibre players.

Those two were Curtis McElhinney, former Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes goalie, and Luke Schenn, a depth defenseman, who has travelled through Toronto, Vancouver, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Arizona and Philadelphia through his 11 year career in the NHL.

Here’s what the two of them bring to the table.

Curtis McElhinney

The veteran, 36 year old goaltender has had a long tenured career, and over the last couple of seasons, has been very important for his teams. He helped Toronto clinch a playoff berth two seasons ago, by stepping in and winning a very important contest to officially clinch. He then was a part of the miracle run in Carolina, where they went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. 

McElhinney is coming off of a career high in starts with 33, posting a career-best 20 wins in the process. He is an outstanding NHL backup, but the Lightning already have fan favorite, Louis Domingue, backing up elite net-minder Andrei Vasilevskiy. What was the point?

They gave McElhinney $1.3M. He’s more expensive than Domingue’s cap hit of $1.15M. Domingue had more wins (31) in less games (26). McElhinney (.912 Save%, 2.58 Goals Against Average) were better than Domingue’s stat line (.908SV%, 2.88 GAA), but that’s not a huge difference.

However, there is one area in which McElhinney stands out more than Domingue however, and that is goals saved above average. While Domingue posted a -1.81 GSAA, McElhinney had a +2.25. But, keep in mind, McElhinney has only posted more wins than losses twice since the 2009-10 season in years with more than 10 starts, and those seasons were the last two. That could either mean improvement despite his aging, or he’s just benefitting from being on a good team at the right time. Maybe that could continue with Tampa, but Louis Domingue has already proven his success with the Bolts, and I don’t understand why they don’t keep sticking with him in net.

This signing ultimately tells me that Domingue is likely to get moved, and I really don’t like that. 

Luke Schenn

Schenn will likely be a 7th defenseman, as he was signed to a 1 year, $700k contract. With that said, these are some players who could’ve been brought in instead (Dan Girardi) and some players he will be competing for time with. 

visual created by Kyle Pereira, stats from CJ Turtoro

As shown above, every other option would have been better. Schenn is atrocious when it comes to entering the offensive zone, and defending against the rush. He couldn’t break up an opponent’s entry, even if his life depended on it. He also is really bad at entering the offensive zone, as shown by his PossEntry60/PossEntry% on the graph. Schenn is really all over the place, and seemingly just shoots the puck a lot. Based on the above visual, I’d genuinely just take a flier on Callan Foote making the jump next season. Just a pointless signing in my book. 

In Conclusion 

The Lightning have had a very slow off-season. This first day of free agency didn’t change a thing. On the one hand, I’m glad they didn’t pull teeth for a guy like Joe Pavelski, but the depth signings, both of them, were just useless. They haven’t signed their RFAs yet. Brayden Point and Cedric Paquette need to get signed quickly.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers have done almost everything right in building up their roster for next season. The Lightning need to get it together, or they will quickly fall behind an ever-so competitive Atlantic Division. 

Spider Graphs created by Kyle Pereira, gathered by CJ Turtoro

Stats from hockey-reference

Salary Cap Info from capfriendly

Ranking the 2019 Free Agent Goalies

You may not find a better crop of Free Agent Goalies than what is available this season. Let’s take a look at each available netminder. 

Many like to call goaltending in hockey “voodoo”, meaning we can never predict what a goalie will go on an insane run, such as how Tukka Rask did in the 2019 Stanely Cup playoffs or on the contrary what goalie will pull a Martin Jones and put up solid results until 2018-2019 essentally costing his team putting up a SV% under 0.900%, being among the worst goalies in the league. So despite all of the voodoo associated with goalies I have ranked the 2019 UFA class in separate tiers from starter calibre to AHL calibre but using data from the past three seasons to get the best sample.

*Glossary of stats can be found at the bottom of the page. 

 

Tier 1: Definitive Starter

Sergei Bobrovsky-(2016-2019)

Age-30

Total WAR-22.9

Average HDSV%-84.93%

Average SV% Above Expected-0.506%

Total GSAA-65.4

Bobrovsky, the two time Vezina winner is without a doubt, a world class goaltender, and has been throughout his career.  He also is the best goalie within this group available July 1st 2019.  It is expected he will be given a monster contract for his consistent and elite level results. While I think he is easily a starter currently, I’m not certain that if I were a general manager of a current NHL team, I would hand him anything over four years at a maximum with his numbers clearly regressing as he ages. Furthermore, in 2016-2017, bobrovski had a 0.957 SV% above expected (SV%-xSV%), in 2017-2018 it was 0.352% and in 2018-2019 it was 0.21%. These numbers falling is probably a result of Bobrovski simply aging, here is a chart describing goaltender aging curves using GSAA (Goals Saved Above Average (League SV_perc * SA) – GA)) .

The question is, can Bobrovski sustain his Vezina calibre goaltending going into his 30’s?  We will see for ourselves whether he is in the Sunshine State or somewhere in New York.

Tier 2: Probably Starter Calibre

Robin Lehner-(2016-2019)

Age-27

Total WAR-10.1

Average HDSV%-78.675%

Average SV% Above Expected-0.055%

Total GSAA-8.03

Robin Lehner is a goaltender who is hard to predict what will happen with him next season.  Historically over the past three seasons, his results did not scream “starter”, but last season he was truly a Vezina level goalie, landing third in voting and putting up respectable numbers all around with a very solid HDSV% in 2018-2019 with 82.67%.  I could see Lehner being a starter next season and doing well but I don’t fully expect him to replicate a season such as the most recent one. One sense of optimism is his mental health seems to be in a lot better condition than it was in Buffalo before, which is a very important aspect of the game that goes under the radar in a sport known for the saying “just tough it out” in hockey.

 

Tier 3: Solid Backup

Mike Smith-(2016-2019)

Age-37

Total WAR-11.3

Average HDSV%-79.373%

Average SV% Above Expected-0.325%

Total GSAA-4.36

Mike Smith is probably the ideal backup on any team who has a definitive starter already, Smith has had a very consistent career of being a good goaltender whether he was behind a good or bad defensive structure. Smith is 37 years old and probably only has one year left in the NHL, but even with the age in account he is capable of being a backup goaltender for any team, posting a HDSV% of over 80% with 80.43%. Smith adds more value to the table by adding a good veteran presence in the locker room.

 

Semyon Varlamov-(2016-2019)

Age-31

Total WAR-5.0

Average HDSV%-77.32%

Average SV% Above Expected-(-0.776%)

Total GSAA–3.81

Seymon Varmalov has been, when healthy, Colorado’s starter for the better of the past five or six seasons, putting up largely okay numbers, and in the past three seasons has been a below average goaltender which puts him within the solid backup category rather than the starter category where many would assume he would be placed. I would bet on Varmalov to continue to put up decent numbers and think any team looking for a backup able to play thirty games or more should definitely inquire on Varmalov.

 

Petr Mrazek-(2016-2019)

Age-27

Total WAR-3.8

Average HDSV%-80.35%

Average SV% Above Expected-(-0.323%)

Total GSAA-2.81

Petr Mrazek is about slightly below what would be you could call you average NHL goaltender which places him within the third tier. Mrazek has never had a full season of being terrible, nor has he had a full season of being amazing, just simply mediocre results across the past three seasons. Mrazek would be a good bet for a team to acquire that doesn’t have one definitive starter, to split the games 50/50 with the other goaltender, such as how Carolina just did last season with Mrazek himself. All in all I would put my money on Mrazek to continue to be the goaltender he has been throughout his career, that is, an average goaltender.

 

Cam Talbot-(2016-2019)

Age-31

Total WAR-11.9

Average HDSV%-77.73%

Average SV% Above Expected-(-0.161%)

Total GSAA-8.91

Cam Talbot is an interesting case when it comes to evaluating him, after he and McDavid carrying Edmonton to the division final in the 2017 Staneley Cup playoffs and throughout the 2016-2017 season. Talbot has not put up stellar numbers since. In both the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 season Talbot’s GSAA (Goals Saved Above Average) and SV% above expected have been negative or below the average goaltender. However these unattractive results could be as a result of the 86 games he played in 2016-2017 (playoffs and regular season combined), while facing 2015 shots, 146 shots more than the next goaltender. On the other hand, he is already 31 years old and well past his prime (a goaltenders prime is around 25) and he is set to regress. But combining all of the factors in play, I do believe Talbot could be a serviceable backup or half starter if he is behind a sound defensive structure such as Calgary, where he is rumored to be heading to. If I were a GM I would avoid paying him starter money because the results don’t show he is of starter quality.

 

Curtis McElhinney-(2016-2019)

Age-36

Total WAR-6.1

Average HDSV%-82.587%

Average SV% Above Expected-0.691%

Total GSAA-17.98

 

Curtis McElhinney is among the most strange cases of goaltenders we have seen before (#GoaliesAreVoodoo), similar to this years Norris winner, Mark Giordano, McElhinney has peaked at a very unusual age. After having the worst career SV% among active goalies in the league, McElhinney has continued his three year journey of putting up fantastic results (I don’t think anyone saw this one coming). So as a result of the data from the past three seasons, McElhinney will be a solid backup for any team in need of a secondary goaltender. McElhinney probably only has a limited amount of time left in the league being 36 years old, but he would be of value for sure.

 

Tier 4: Mediocre Backup 

Keith Kinkaid-(2016-2019)

Age-29

Total WAR-3.9

Average HDSV%-77.95%

Average SV% Above Expected-(-0.245%)

Total GSAA-(-10.65)

Keith Kinkaid is an interesting option for a backup, as he appears to be about an average NHL backup at this point in his career putting up mixed results over the past three seasons, but still NHL calibre results. Any team who misses out on the options above should take a shot at Kinkaid if they need a second goaltender.

Tier 5: Third Goalie (AHL Starters) 

Cam Ward-(2016-2019)

Age-35

Total WAR-0.6

Average HDSV%-77.63%

Average SV% Above Expected-(-0.595%)

Total GSAA-(-22.26)

Cam Ward is simply not the Cam Ward from 2006 when he was a rookie who won the Stanley Cup with Carolina. He hasn’t been for years and it’s extremely unlikely he will ever perform at a level as he did in 2006 again, given he is 35 years old and will only likely regress because of his age as a result. For teams who are looking for a goalie to be an emergency call up when injuries happen he is a great guy to have, but I think he will probably play in the NHL as a backup only because of his stellar play TEN YEARS AGO.

Michal Neuvirth-(2016-2019)

Age-31

Total WAR–1.7

Average HDSV%-73.46%

Average SV% Above Expected-(-1.313%)

Total GSAA-(-17.05)

Michal Neuvirth is a player whose existence as an NHL player is forgotten about. It may be because he was one of the Flyers sevens goalies this past season but don’t quote me on it. Neuvrith over the last three seasons hasn’t put up NHL calibre goaltending (was below replacement level) meaning you can bring in your best AHL goalie and he would probably put up the same results.

Index of Abbreviations: 

SV_perc    Save Percentage: 1 – (GA / SA)

FSV_perc    Fenwick Save Percentage: 1 – (GA_ / FA)

xFSV_perv    Expected Fenwick Save Percentage: 1 – (xGA / FA)

d_FSV_perc    FSV_perc – xFSV_perc

GSAA    Goals Saved Above Average: (League SV_perc * SA) – GA

GSAx    Goals Saved Above Expected: xGA – GA_

Goals Above Average & Replacement (Goalies):

 

Metric    Definition

GAA_per_fenwick    Goals Above Average per Fenwick Shot Against (the transformed coefficient from the regression. See below)

FA    Total fenwick shots against

GAA    Goals Above Average: FA * GAA_per_fenwick

GAR    Goals Above Replacement: GAA + (FA * 0.007312411) // inverted replacement level GAA_per_fenwick

WAR    GAR / season goals per win

Data is from, Micah Blake McCurdy 2019, https://evolving-hockey.com/, http://moneypuck.com/goalies.htm and https://www.corsicahockey.com/nhl/players/nhl-player-stats/goalie-stats

 

What do the St. Louis Blues do now?

After winning their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, the St. Louis Blues have some choices to make.

General Manager Doug Armstrong has $15,470,406 in cap space to work with and some players he has to resign. Doug Armstrong has already made a couple moves this off-season by signing Carl Gunnarsson to a two year contract and officially taking the interim tag off Craig Berube. It is easy for a GM to just the band back together but that doesn’t always work. After having an eventful summer in 2018 things seem like they will be a tad quieter in 2019.

The Jake Allen Question

Blues Twitter made it two weeks after winning the Cup to start complaining or praising Jake Allen again. The 28 year old is on the books for two more seasons at a cap hit of 4,350,000. Going into the 2019-2020 season he is going to be the clear back-up to Jordan Binnington. That is a lot of money to give to a back up goalie, but ponder this Blues fans, Binnington is beloved in St. Louis and can do no wrong. However, he is not a proven starter. He had a great run for the Blues and seems to have all the ability but we just don’t know. If you tell yourself you do know you are lying to yourself. If Binnington needs to prove he can be an legit number one guy, like a Braden Holtby or whoever comes to mind when thinking of a starter. The Blues have never had a guy, that every season, the fans know they are going to be solid in net for 10 years and are hoping Binnington is that person. If he is, Allen is expendable but if not, even if he is expensive Allen can be a very good back-up goalie and has been in his career at points. Also if not Jake Allen, then who? Keith Kinkaid? Curtis McElhinney? Both of those guys are options for the Blues if they decide to move on from Allen, but it is up to Armstrong to make sure he gets actual assets and isn’t trading Jake just to trade him.

Restricted Free Agents

The Blues have a lot of restricted free agents to lock up, but, unlike a lot of teams, they don’t have any superstar talents to lockup. At forward, the Blues need to give new contracts to Ivan Barbashev, Robby Fabbri, Zach Sanford, Oskar Sundqvist and Sammy Blais. All of these guys are solid pieces, and all played their part in winning a Stanley Cup, but none of them should break the bank. All can be locked up for a couple years at a relatively cheap rate and produce whe given the ice time. Sundqvist and Barbashev will be the most expensive of the group as guys who can play center and score but by no means will they cap the Blues out. On defense the only RFA is Joel Edmundson who had a bit of a down season and after signing a three million dollar contract last offseason may see a bit of a dip this year. The most important restricted free agent is goalie Jordan Binnington. He is going to receive quite the raise from the $650,000 he was making last year and the comparable is Matt Murray who has a cap hit of $3,750,000. Will he take that? No idea maybe the Blues feel he should make more than Jake Allen but whatever happens Binnington will be the most expensive RFA to sign.

Unrestricted Free Agents

After resigning Carl Gunnarsson, the Blues have one UFA of note in Patrick Maroon. Not trying to insult Michael Del Zotto and Chris Thorburn, but neither are making an impact on the Blues roster next season. Maroon apparently has been gaining interest from teams like the Calgary Flames, who saw how productive Maroon was in the first few rounds of the playoffs and want some of that action. For the Blues, it is going to be important that Doug Armstrong does not overpay Maroon, no matter how easy it would be. The man proclaimed himself a “hometown hero baby” at the parade after scoring one of the biggest goals in Blues history, with his double OT winner against the Stars in game seven, but just look at the facts. He had 28 points in the regular season, even though he got a ton of power play time. In the playoffs, he was on a productive line with Tyler Bozak and Robert Thomas, but that line slowed down as the playoffs went along, and especially in the finals, when Thomas went down with injury. The Blues are loaded at forward and do not need to overpay anyone. If he wants to take another discount and stay, awesome. He will always be loved here.

(P.S. as someone who went to the same high school as Patty, that was tough to write.)

Trades/Free Agents

The Blues don’t appear to be talking to any of the upper tier, or even middle tier free agents. So, maybe a depth signing here or there, but nothing that will change the outlook of the team. Besides Jake Allen there may be a trade or two on the roster. Brayden Schenn has one year left on his deal and may command a lot of money next off-season. The Blues prospect cupboard at forward looks pretty good, so there may not be a need to keep Schenn maybe there is a trade there. However I doubt it happens and Schenn will simply just walk next off season.  Alex Steen is making quite a bit of money as a 35 year old depth piece, but he has a no trade and looks like he has found a role on the fourth line. Trading Steen will be difficult as he has a full no move clause and no teams are clamoring to take on that money. The Maple Leafs were reportedly talking to the Blues about Robby Fabbri maybe something is to be done there. Fabbri is a rather unfortunate case as with all the injuries he has suffered we may never see the fire cracker of a player he was in 2015-2016 season especially in the playoffs. Alex Pietrangelo also one year left on his deal and believe it or not some Blues fans are saying to trade him. Legitimate number one right-handed defense-men don’t grow on trees and no way the Blues will trade their captain and no way will he be able to walk in free agency.

The Young Guys

The improvement will come from their young guys taking another step. Robert Thomas had a nice rookie season, but looks like he could be a star and step in as a top line center down the line. Prospect Jordan Kyrou has proven all he needs to prove at the minor league levels, and it is time for him to prove he can be a legit NHL player and be the elite scorer he was in the AHL and OHL. Klim Kostin, Dominik Bokk and Alexei Toropchenko are all promising prospects, but may be a couple years away. Erik Foley had his year at Providence derailed by injury, but he was a part of the Paul Stastny trade and is another promising piece for the future. Oskar Sundqvist is an example of being patient with a player as he went from AHL depth piece to being a surprise star for the Blues playing all over the lineup and really contributing to that four line punch the Blues brought. If he can take another step and become a 40 point player, this team gets that much better. Vince Dunn is the guy on defense the Blues are looking at to make a leap and be a top four guy. He has wonderful offensive skills but needs to work on his play in his own end.  Although the Blues seem to have their defense set, but injuries happen and guys like Mitch Reinke Nikko Mikkola and Jake Walman will get looks at the NHL level. It may be better for the Blues to keep Allen and let Ville Husso rebound after last season.

Final Piece

Overall it appears the Blues are in a good position moving forward. The veterans are complemented by a lot of young talent and the scouting staff in St. Louis always seems to be able to find good players in the later parts of the draft. The core isn’t old with players like Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly well within their prime and have a lot of good years left. They have their coach in Craig Berube and appear well and ready to make another run at a cup next season despite what will probably be a quiet summer.

Player Profiles via hockey-reference.com

Featured Image Credit: Dinur Blum

 

Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes: Endings are simply new beginnings

The Carolina Hurricanes put on an amazing spectacle this season, so what’s in store for the future. 

 

All good things must come to an end.

The Carolina Hurricanes’ Cinderella run deep into the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs have ended. After the sweep of the New York Islanders in round two, the good fortune of our favorite Bunch of Jerks was over. Despite their strong goaltending and 5-on-5 play, they found themselves unable to find a way against the Boston Bruins. In a trend set from the start of the 2019 playoffs, the Carolina Hurricanes found themselves swept in the Eastern Conference Finals. This is not to say that the Hurricanes were a poor team, on the contrary, they were a fantastic team. The Bruins were just better, with their power play clicking upwards of 60% during the four game series. Now that their season is over, it’s now time to look towards the 2019-20 regular season.

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Looking forward: The franchise

Hockey is most definitely back in North Carolina. During the regular season, the Carolina Hurricanes began seeing a surge in attendance, and going into the 2019 playoffs, even set a new franchise record. Game 4 of the second round saw the Hurricanes set a franchise record of 19,495 in attendance at PNC Arena, the same night they recorded their first franchise series sweep. This is only but one of many records either set, or broken, by the Carolina Hurricanes during this past year. Depending on roster moves during the summer, another playoff drought isn’t expected anytime soon. And much to the ire of their critics, as well as the delight of their fans (both new and old), hockey isn’t leaving North Carolina anytime soon.

Looking forward: The players

The Hurricanes roster at the start of the 2019-20 regular season will see the return of many familiar faces. It also faces the possibility of several players leaving the franchise. One such player is Scott Darling, whom is rumored to be facing a contract buyout during the off-season this summer, as evidenced in the below tweet from David Pagotta.


 

Sebastian Aho, Brock McGinn, and Clark Bishop are all RFAs. Aho is extremely likely to be re-signed by Hurricanes GM Don Waddell, with Brock McGinn being a strong possibility. The Hurricanes roster also has five UFAs to address this summer as well. Justin Williams, Greg McKegg, Michael Ferland, and the miracle goaltending duo of Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney. With the number of contract negotiations to occur during the summer, we may see a lot of new jerks on the roster.

The “Bunch of Jerks” and the Storm Surge

Whether you’re a bandwagon fan from the 2019 playoffs, new to the franchise (like myself), or a long-time fan, the Caniacs have a lot to look forward to. The “Bunch of Jerks” season saw not only a re-branding of the Carolina Hurricanes, but a re-invention of the team’s identity. It’s unknown whether or not the moniker will carry over into the 2019-20 regular season. Many have suggested that it does not, as there will not be another season like this. I happen to agree on this, as it happened to grow out of the noteworthy tirades of Don Cherry. The Storm Surge is unlikely to end anytime soon. I also expect them to continue to evolve over the course of the next season, as they did this past one. Anything less just wouldn’t feel right.

Stats from Hockey-Reference.com, NHL.com

Featured Image Credit: Josh Tessler

Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes Facing Elimination After The Storm Fails To Bruin

The hurricane warning facing the Stanley Cup Playoffs has been downgraded to a tropical storm warning.

The Carolina Hurricanes are now down 3-0 in their series against the Boston Bruins, following a tough loss at home. They showed up to PNC Arena hungry for a win, but it wasn’t in the cards for the Hurricanes tonight. Hurricanes captain Justin Williams lead the charge, except in the wrong direction. He was penalized three times in the first period alone, leading to head coach Rod Brind’Amour to limit his ice time in an effort to stem the Bruins’ deadly power play. An effort that went mostly unpunished, until Micheal Ferland would be sent to the box for a high-stick. Boston’s only power play conversion came during this penalty sequence, the fourth of five against the Hurricanes.

This would also end up being the game-winning goal of the hard-fought game between the two conference finalists. The Hurricanes weren’t without fight however. Defensemen Calvin de Haan (#44) would score the Canes’ lone tally on a five-hole snipe against Tuukka Rask.

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Despite their effort, they fell short. This can be directly accredited to missed scoring chances, such as ones by Teuvo Teravainen (LW, #86) in the first period, his shot going well wide of an open net. Or Andrei Svechnikov (RW, #37) during the second, missing the open net as Rask was out of position. Their less-than lackluster power play which has gone 1-for-12 in three games (8.3%), including a 5-on-3 opportunity Tuesday night, has also greatly hindered them.

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

The primary takeaways from this game, compared to the others, was the significantly better special teams and goaltending. The Hurricanes penalty kill was significantly better (4/5, 80%) compared to games 1 (3/5, 60%) and 2 (0/2). Curtis McElhinney, who started tonight, allowed only two goals against. One at even strength, and one on the penalty kill. Carolina also came out in the first period with an exceptionally strong forecheck, allowing Boston a meager 6 shots on goal while registering 20.

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While the first period was exceptional, the team’s inability to find the back of the net hampered their confidence. They came back out for the second period with significantly less zeal, and it showed. Boston was able to gain the upper hand early and capitalize on it. If Carolina is to come back in this series, they have to get back to playing a complete 60 minutes. A good 20 or 40 minutes won’t win the game for them, or the series. Their power play special teams ineffectiveness has also been a severe damper on the Hurricanes, and while not strictly necessary to win, is a significant factor when you see 5 opportunities in a game.

Discipline is, in my opinion, the Hurricanes enemy number one right now. Of the twelve penalties assessed to the team across games one through three, Carolina has successfully killed six (50%). Four of those six were in game three alone. If they can’t keep Boston out of their heads, and themselves out of the box, they will continue to feed opportunities to the Bruins.

The series thus far: Game 1 (5-2 Boston)

Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals took place on May 9th at TD Garden in Boston, MA. It came after the Carolina Hurricanes swept the New York Islanders (M2) at home in Raleigh, NC, six days prior. At this time, the Hurricanes were the projected winners of the series, and the favorite for the 2019 Stanley Cup. The Hurricanes went into game 1 looking well, with starting goaltender Petr Mrazek returning from a lower body injury sustained in game 2 versus NYI. Steven Kampfer would start the game off early, putting Boston up 1-0, but it would be short lived. Sean Kuraly would be penalized (1st of 3 Boston penalties this game) at 3:39 of the first period. Wasting no time, Sebastian Aho would capitalize on a feed by Svechnikov a mere three seconds later.

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Carolina would take the 2-1 lead in the second period on a goal by Greg McKegg (C, #42), his second of the postseason. Everything was looking good for the Hurricanes and their Stanley Cup aspirations. That’s when things began to unravel. Jordan Staal (C, #11) would be assessed a minor penalty for boarding. Boston wasted no time and tied the game on a PPG by Marcus Johansson. Shortly after, Dougie Hamilton (D, #19), would be assessed a roughing minor. Again, Boston would capitalize to put them up 3-2, on a PPG by Patrice Bergeron. By then, the damage was done and it appeared that the Hurricanes had left the building. Charlie Coyle would tally an empty net goal, and Chris Wagner, unassisted, would cap the game off at 5-2.

The series thus far: Game 2 (6-2 Boston, again)

Returning to TD Garden on May 12th, the Hurricanes clearly let the shortcomings of game one haunt them. As a team that is known for raucous, unbelievable comebacks after a devastating loss, they fell flat. They came out strong in the first period, with an early power play opportunity that would go unfulfilled (1st of 4 PPs that night). Matt Grzelcyk would open the scoring with less than 5 minutes remaining in the first period, and the Hurricanes rapidly unraveled. Williams would be penalized for a trip, and Jake Debrusk would find the back of the net six seconds later to cap off the first, 2-0 Boston. Carolina would go on the PP twice more during the second period, but again prove unable to convert.

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Boston would increase their lead by two during the period, however. On goals by Connor Clifton, and a PPG goal by Grzelcyk after Williams would again find himself in the penalty box. This time on a holding minor. Entering the third period, the Hurricanes saw the Bruins extend the lead to a commanding 6-0 on goals by David Backes and Danton Heinen. The silver lining to this loss was that the Hurricanes managed to deny the Bruins the shutout. Williams manages to beat Rask to get the Hurricanes on the board. Teravainen doubles down on an already disastrous loss.

The Beginning, or the End.

The Boston Bruins return to PNC Arena to face-off against the Carolina Hurricanes again on Thursday, May 16th for game 4. The game starts at 8:00PM EST and will air on NBCSN, SportsNet, CBC, and TVA Sports.

Sources: NHL.com, hockey-reference.com

Featured Image Photo Credit – Josh Tessler