The Carolina Hurricanes should pocket their win over the New York Islanders as a sign that, despite their best efforts, they can still win hockey games. They should look to those who contributed, make note of their efforts, and begin to plan for the offseason as they look into who will stay and who will go. They should be pleased, but still understand the situation they’ve played themselves into.
But they won’t. This is the time of year where the Canes go on a futile run — you know, the kind that gets the talking heads on NHL Network talking about “the resilient group in Raleigh” that might make life difficult for the Lightnings, Bruins, Capitals, etc. of the world — and get juuuuuuust close enough to warrant the garden variety “bright future” remarks, but not into the playoffs and can’t manage to fall far enough back to pick up a high draft pick.
Even still, a win is welcome in that locker room. Deserved, even, for a few. Guys like Jordan Staal, Jaccob Slavin, Justin Williams, Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen that have, by a wide margin, been the only reasons to watch this team lately should soak in the feeling of once again taking two points.
Speaking of Slavin, that’s now back-to-back 1G, 1A performances for the blueliner. Tonight’s goal wasn’t quite as pretty as his marker from the Philadelphia meltdown, but they all count the same.
It’s good to see him chipping in offensively. It hasn’t been a perfect year for Slavin on either side of the puck (and the fact that that’s even a mark of judgment for him speaks to how solid he has been in his career), but he remains Carolina’s strongest asset on the blue line, and joins Aho as the one of the most important pieces of the developing core.
Joining Slavin with a goal and an assist of his own was Victor Rask, notching his second goal in four games...and since Jan. 30. The Canes are in a tricky situation with Rask; he’s just breached 30 points for the fourth time in his four-year career, but continues to underwhelm. Except for his hip check — that was cool.
Clutterbuck just got DROPPED! pic.twitter.com/B66nls6db8— FOX Sports Carolinas (@CanesOnFSCR) March 18, 2018
But the point remains: Rask isn’t improving. He’s not stepping into bigger shoes, which are right there for him. Jeff Skinner has seemingly run out of his Secret Stuff, and Aho/Teravainen are bound to have their off nights sometimes, so Rask should be licking his lips at the opportunities ahead of him. But he’s not.
For the second consecutive year (barring a very impressive run to the finish for the Swede), he’s going to finish with fewer points than he put up the year prior. Rask is in year two of a six-year, $24 million contract — his first non-ELC deal — and he’s already regressing from a what would be a fairly low peak, given his talent level.
He still has time to get back to the promising player he was before. It’s unfair to write the 25-year-old off just yet, but another year of middling production simply won’t cut it, and it’s up to the management to make that clear to him.
Shifting gears, perhaps the most pleasant surprise this year has been the play of Trevor van Riemsdyk. With the game-winning goal and another quietly solid showing on defense, TVR has again shown why he belongs as a member of the Canes Vaunted Young Defense Corps (TM). He won’t wow you with goals and Brent Burns-like skills as a scorer, but he’ll do his job consistently and often impress with his talents as a general player.
Ask Brett, he knows.
|￣￣￣￣￣￣|— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) March 18, 2018
| GIVE |
| TVR |
| AN |
| EXTENSION |
van Riemsdyk isn’t the savior of the Canes and he’s no Slavin or Pesce, but he’s a solid young defenseman who has subtly been one of Carolina’s best on the ice this year.
In the grand scheme of things, this win is a blip. If it becomes the spark of a remarkable, historic run to the postseason, then fantastic; I’ll be more than glad to be wrong. But we’ve all seen this movie. So let’s enjoy this for what it is — a nice win that should help loosen up the room a bit — and go on about our days. There’s a pretty important offseason to get ready for.