Another Carolina Hurricanes vs the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals game is in the books. Like the previous five games they’ve played against one another this season, the Capitals won, but barely. They held on for an overtime win, 4-3. They have a strong 2-0 lead in their playoff series as they head to the Hurricanes’ PNC Arena Monday night.
While the usual suspects are putting the puck in the net for the Capitals – Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Bäckström and T. J. Oshie – the top scorers for the Hurricanes have been silent. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour made an appeal in a media availability Sunday morning saying, “I’d love to see our best.” Given how close these contests with the Caps have been, seeing the ‘Canes best might yield a different result.
Hurricanes’ Top Scorers Along for the Ride?
The Hurricanes’ top goal scorers from the regular season have been held to almost no production in Games 1 and 2 against the Capitals. Sebastion Aho, who had not scored a goal since March 9, finally got one Saturday, but it wasn’t one of his most compelling shots. He basically squeezed it into the goal of the butt of Capitals’ goalie Braden Holtby. But, it counted, so maybe Aho is back and will get hot in the remaining games.
Brind’Amour said after the game, “At the end of the day – I guess ‘Sea-bass’ had one goal – our top guys aren’t on the scoresheet. Theirs are. I feel pretty good that, if we get those guys going – which they have all year – it will give us a better chance to win, that’s for sure. We’re hanging around, and I don’t think we’re playing our best hockey so that’s I guess somewhat positive.”
Yes, “Sea-bass” – who led the team in the regular season with 30 goals – got on the scoresheet. But, team captain Justin Williams was second in the regular season with 23 goals. In the playoffs so far, he has zero goals and one assist. Brian LeBlanc at CanesCountry wrote in a recap of Saturday’s contest that Williams had this to say about the performance thus far of himself and his line:
We have to be better. Our line and just in general. I haven’t been good this series, I think if you talk to our other top scorers, we need to be a lot better, and we will be in Game 3.
There is no sense piling on here. Williams is fully aware that he needs to do better. That is what makes him such a great captain, his self-awareness regarding his own game. He knows what it takes to win in the postseason and will do all he can to step his game up. The team will hopefully be inspired to do likewise, as they have been all season.
Teuvo Teravainen had 21 goals this season, Dougie Hamilton had 18 and Michael Ferland had 17 and Nino Niederreiter had 23, 14 of which were with the Hurricanes. Of these four players, only Hamilton has any points in the two playoff games with the Capitals – two assists. There are zero goals amongst this group so far in the playoffs.
The unexpected goals are more than welcome. Andrei Svechnikov scored twice in Game 1 and showed he is the real deal. But, most teams usually don’t want their rookie leading the team in scoring in a playoff game unless that rookie’s last name is Crosby. They also want the veterans producing.
No offense intended to Svechnikov, as he is on a rocket ship trip to stardom at the rate he is playing and growing. The point is that the guys who have been the Hurricanes’ scoring leaders throughout the season need to step up
Brind’Amour summed it up well in Sunday’s media availability: “I give our guys a lot of credit because we keep digging in, we find ways to get into these games but we haven’t played our best. We’ve had a chance to win. I’d love to see our best and see what happens.” So would the “Caniacs” coach, as soon as Monday night.
Mark lives in the Raleigh, NC area and covers the Carolina Hurricanes.