The Carolina Hurricanes honored their tradition on Whalers Night, but they also honored the generally positive preseason views placed on them with their performance in a 5-3 win over Boston.
It’s been a slog of a season, with more losing streaks than winning streaks. There was hope that with two of the top young forwards in the league, a top blue line, a No. 2 Draft pick who was ready to play on the first day and an AHL affiliate with a motor that the Canes had a good path to snapping their lengthy playoff droughts. But morale — and ticket sales — have sunk lower and lower.
But on Christmas Eve Eve, a packed PNC Arena got to see the home team play an exciting brand of hockey and defeat a playoff-bound opponent. Plus going to bed with “Brass Bonanza” ringing in your head isn’t so bad.
Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen were both on the cusps of hat tricks after scoring some slick goals. But one of the most noticeable things about the duo on Sunday was the willingness to be a pest against the Bruins in the offensive zone, which ultimately led to a pair of goals.
The second period began with a Bruins power play that carried over from the first period, and the Canes established a strong kill to set the tone. After Aho calmly guided a puck out of the Canes’ zone, Teravainen skated in to apply whatever pressure he could. Tuukka Rask, instead of carrying the puck behind the net for a setup, tipped it into the corner, and Turbo smelled blood.
He worked Charlie McAvoy (tough night) against the glass and took the puck away, then Aho crashed the open slot to receive a pass and go five-hole to tie the game after being down 2-0 early.
Shortly after, Aho decided to give some of his own business to McAvoy, risking a high stick to make a play. As McAvoy attempted to skate the puck out of the Bruins’ zone, Aho threw his stick across McAvoy’s chest to take his handles away, and Teravainen collected the puck just outside of the blue line. Turbo drew McAvoy, leaving another wide-open shot for Aho from the slot. 3-2.
In older days, those bigger and more vicious guys like Jordan Staal, Micheal Ferland and … [checks card] … Clark Bishop (?!) would be the one to annoy the living hell out of the opponent’s with their bodies. Now, speedsters with less punch but great awareness like our two Finns are proving their worth in defensive mode.
Speaking of those two, another interesting point of tonight’s win was the glance we got at some Aho - Teravainen - Andrei Svechnikov units. Of little surprise, they were in the offensive zone a lot.
All three were on the ice were on the first goal, a semi-fluky one that Teravainen put off McAvoy (seriously, tough night) in front of the crease. But the trio kept possession for a long while to keep the Bruins breathing heavy before Slavin put the puck off the corner that found Teravainen for the goal.
And on the aforementioned Aho goal, in which he chopped McAvoy to set up the entry, Svechnikov played a big part in tiring out the Bruins yet again. He created a zone entry, badgering two Bruins to get the puck deep, and after he lost it, came back up the glass to create heavy pressure. The puck barely crossed the blue line before Svechnikov fed it back in, then he went off for a change to put Foegele on the ice when the goal was scored.
There aren’t very many highlights of “generally good shifts,” but our rookie deserved a few for his play.
One of the few problem areas I saw in the game was that Petr Mrazek, who stood strong at the end and got a big win, sat deep in his crease on shots from distance. That helped led to two goals, though a screen was pretty heavy on the first. It’s hard to stretch the blocker wide to stop a shot like, say, Ryan Donato’s slapshot.
It’s pretty weird to see the guy who has done interpretive dances feet from the crease in desperation be so conservative in staying inside his blue paint last night. Hopefully, he and the coaching staff will sit down and talk it over.
But to be honest, I’m just happy last night happened. Let the Hartford natives say what they will. I get there’s a level of heartbreak with a team not just leaving (RIP my OG team, the Pee Dee Pride), but also with rights to your icons and colors.
I’m not going to feel bad, though, because look what it did on Sunday for Raleigh. A packed house. A loud crowd. A mix of colors from red to green to yellow. The players loved it and the fans there loved it.
It was important to get a win out of that. It was just extra sugar on Santa’s cookies that the Bruins chants in the first period were drowned out by Canes and Whalers chants as the home team ran off with the win.
That’s all that matters to me. It may not be a statement win for the team this season, but it was one for the franchise and its history.
Following the game, Bishop and Janne Kuokkanen were reassigned to the Charlotte Checkers. The release from the team is below.
CANES REASSIGN BISHOP AND KUOKKANEN TO AHL
Forwards were recalled on Dec. 22
Don Waddell, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has reassigned forwards Clark Bishop and Janne Kuokkanen to the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League.
Bishop, 22, has skated in 16 games with the Hurricanes this season, recording two points (1g, 1a). The St. John’s, N.L., native has tallied five points (3g, 2a) in 15 AHL games with the Checkers this season and made his NHL debut on Oct. 20 vs. Colorado. The 6’1”, 199-pound forward was drafted by the Hurricanes in the fifth round, 127th overall, of the 2014 NHL Draft.
Kuokkanen, 20, has played four games with Carolina in 2018-19. The 6’3”, 193-pound forward has recorded 27 points (11g, 16a) in 29 AHL games with Charlotte this season, ranking second on the team in scoring. The Oulunsalo, Finland, native was drafted in the second round, 43rd overall, of the 2016 NHL Draft.