It’s been a rough start for some of the Carolina Hurricanes’ foremost scorers. Sebastian Aho remains snakebitten and goalless through nine games, the entire power play unit can’t seem to get out of its own way and Victor Rask has found the scoresheet in just two of nine games.
Luckily, one of those two games was against Toronto on Tuesday night, as Rask scored the game-winning goal.
Rask’s goal was a strong personal marker (success for him continues to be defined by goals), but also showed the resolve of a young Canes team that had seen the game get away from them.
Speaking of young players, Brock McGinn gets the play started with a simple dump-in.
The Canes don’t have a numbers advantage on this play; being able to dump the puck here against the high-pressing Maple Leafs defense is a small success in itself. Then again, it is against Roman Polak, so...
Next comes the important part of dumping the puck in: actually going and getting it. The ever-gritty McGinn plays a loose gap on Andreas Borgman, who in turn tries a stutter-step to evade.
Notice Teuvo Teravainen providing support as well; if he lingers any higher, he’s out of position as McGinn’s support. Any lower, and Borgman could lose both with one move.
Borgman escapes McGinn, but Teravainen wisely bypasses Polak’s screen/pick/??? attempt to force Borgman to chip the puck.
Teravainen going low also forces Auston Matthews to collapse to the goal line to assist the Leafs’ defense, opening up the center of the zone for, say, a Hurricane to camp out in the slot.
Borgman’s chip goes a whopping four feet down the wall where Teravainen easily picks it up and wheels around the net to find the open Rask.
The eyes on this play are fascinating. Teravainen’s eyes are up and searching for a passing option as he comes around the cage. The Leafs in the frame all have their eyes glued to the puck-carrier, missing Rask slipping in behind them for a clear shot on goal.
And how about that finish? Despite his struggles, Rask remains a world-class shooter and can easily pick corners on a good day. The next step for him is being able to do it in less-than-ideal scenarios (i.e. on his back foot, poor angle, etc.).
Teravainen has been noticeably more aggressive and confident in the neutral zone; keeping a consistent intensity coupled with this kind of passing ability would do wonders not only for him, but for players like Rask who can quietly find open areas of the ice to do what they do best.