Hurriwhales Win Preseason #5
Right now, the Hurricanes have the swagger, confidence and threads (more on those Whaler sweaters in a bit) of Ric Flair, combined with the Mr. Perfect record (5-0 so far) in their 2018 preseason start.
Last night was the closest/toughest game the Canes have had thus far in the preseason. Hats off to the Capitals who played a tough game, battling back to tie and force OT.
Starting in the blue paint, I thought Mrazek pieced together a solid game—making himself big on a number of opportunities. The first goal scored on him was legit one of the prettiest things I’ve seen thus far —literally nothing Mrazek could do on it. There’s no secret when it comes to the Caps Power Play—cycle the puck and get it to Ovi on the left side for a one-timer. Mrazek played it perfectly, sliding over to take away the net from the rocket coming his way. Ovi takes that shot 99% of the time. Last night was one of those 1% times he looks for the hot pass, which he did—connecting with Backstrom. But to be honest, it almost looked like it went off Slavin’s stick. Regardless of how it went in, Ovi got the puck to the net and good things can always happen when you do that.
There wasn’t really any “soft” goals that Mrazek let up—at least from my standpoint. I suppose you could point to the fourth (tying goal) as soft. I’m not really sure what happened there, as Mrazek wasn’t quite on top of his crease and the fact that he didn’t react makes me think that he was partially screened. He made a great toe save on one and unfortunately for him, the puck came back out to the middle for an easy clean up opportunity. In Mrazek’s defense, that’s a set play where a player coming down the wing puts a hard shot low and to the far side in hopes for the potential rebound for a teammate to pick up—which worked for Washington in that situation.
Last night felt like the Canes took the foot off the gas a bit compared to their other wins. I didn’t notice the quickness to the puck and swarming that I had been prevalent in their previous games—where it helped them overwhelm the opposition and pile pucks to the back of the net. Some of that could be due to guys like Williams, Staal, McGinn, etc. being scratched. I think Holtby did them a couple favors on some shots that looked routine/savable. Judging by his reaction to some of them, I think he’d agree. Hey, sometimes you need that to help you get the W and the Canes got that help last night.
Aho and Teuvo topped off their strong performances for the night with the pair connecting for the game winner 19 seconds into OT. Aho is so silky smooth it’s awesome to watch.
When asked if he felt the preseason success carries any weight, coach The Bod said something to the effect that it doesn’t when it comes to wins and loses, but for a team (the Canes) who have been irrelevant for a number of years and who is trying to instill a new system and philosophy, it’s certainly something to build from—essentially, it’s more important to a team like Carolina than, say, Washington, who is already established and has their players/system in place.
Now to the best hockey news to come out since the season ended...
The Whalers (sweater) is back!
Hartfo—err—Carolina announced this week that they’ll be bringing back the Whalers jerseys for a special “Whaler Night” this year against Boston.
Kind of funny that the announcement has been met with a lot of criticism. As a hockey fan, I don’t quite get it. I always thought it was a shame the Whalers were moved out of Hartford. While I understood the Canes wanting to “start fresh” when moving to Carolina and build up their new brand/team, I was always bummed that the history of Hartford was pretty much forgotten. That’s why I liked when the Dundon made the decision to honor the heritage that gave birth (albeit against their will) to Carolina and start incorporating the Whalers back into the culture. I think this recent announcement is awesome and people should be stoked, but you can’t please everyone and people are entitled to their opinions.
To me...at the end of the day, it’s hockey, just enjoy the fact that one of the best sweaters to ever grace the ice is coming back for a night or two and that the tight-knit Hartford fanbase (who shouldn’t have lost them), will see their team getting some love. Hell, maybe it can help the continue efforts of the dedicated fans who have tried getting the NHL’s attention for years (c’mon, Gary!) to finally bring the Whale back to Hartford.
I’ll leave you with this Mallrats quote from Brody:
“Breakfasts come and go, Rene, but Hartford, "the Whale," they only beat Vancouver once, maybe twice in a lifetime.”
Until next time.