Never in their Wildest Dreams did the Los Angeles Kings see a 2-0 shutout coming towards them last night. But that is exactly the Gorgeous result that Petr Mrazek and the Carolina Hurricanes handed them. While the offense remained quiet, and there wasn’t much Bad Blood exchanged between the two teams, a 2-0 game managed to remain interesting thanks to special teams play, both good and bad, by the Canes.
(If you haven’t figured out yet, this future Pulitzer Prize-winning article is completely Taylor Swift themed. If you don’t understand why you can catch up here. If you don’t like Taylor Swift nor references to T-Swift and for some reason have a massive objection to this, my message to you is simply this: You Need To Calm Down, stop acting like you’re Fifteen, this isn’t a Love Story, it’s just ME expressing my thoughts on last nights game.)
Oh god they’re playing shake it off by Taylor Swift in the Hurricanes locker room— Sara Civ (@SaraCivian) October 16, 2019
The Good - Mean Mrazek
Anyone you talk to will tell you that Petr Mrazek is a great human being. He bought everyone on the team a personalized hat during training camp, he’s always smiling in post game interviews, and he’s even taken young Martin Necas under his wing. But Mrazek did a very Mean thing to the LA Kings last night - at least in the eyes of Kings fans. He didn’t allow a single goal to get past him meaning the Kings fans were not able to celebrate any at all.
For Hurricanes fans, however, Mrazek brought lots of joy, as he was the best he’s been all season. Recording his 19th career shutout, Mrazek was solid from the very beginning but he also never faced many quality opportunities as the defense was stellar last night. So far this season Rod Brind’Amour has alternated starts between goalies, and that seems likely to be the case with the back to back situation tonight, but Mrazek’s undefeated start to the year is promising for the Hurricanes. With many questions still surrounding goaltending entering the year, the combination of Mrazek and James Reimer has looked very good so far and they have quieted the haterzzzz for now.
Mrazek throwing kicks like Ken in Street Fighter II pic.twitter.com/1EEbS3XgVk— FOX Sports Carolinas (@CanesOnFSCR) October 16, 2019
The Bad - The Power Play Must Shake It Off
The biggest surprise of the young season has been how effective the Hurricanes power play has been. Going from a lower end power play last year to having scored five power play goals in six games entering last night. That’s a drastic improvement, and one that has seen many of the newcomers to the team help lift the dreadful power play from the depths of power play hell. But last night was a very bad night for the power play units.
The Hurricanes went 0-4 last night with the man advantage and haven’t scored on the power play in their past three games. The red hot Dougie Hamilton has fizzled out a little and with Sebastian Aho in a stretch that’s colder than his Finland home during winter, the power play is starting to look like the power play we all have known for the past several years.
The zone entries are no longer clean, the passing is not crisp, and the overall feel of the power play is momentum-killing. The only goal the Hurricanes did score last night, not counting the empty-netter, was off a Ryan Dzingel pass to Martin Necas.
As you can see, Dzingel finds Necas creeping down the slot and makes a great pass to set up an easy goal. The reason behind pointing this out is that, if they can do this at five-on-five, the Hurricanes should be able to do it at 5-on-4. The talent is there and the play making ability is there, they just need look at the last few games, Shake It Off, and get back to what they were doing in the first few games of the year.
The Great - The PK Was ...Ready For It
It’s honestly amazing to think that the Hurricanes are 6-1-0 this year with as many penalties as they have been taking. The Canes lead the league with 34 minor penalties so far this year, which is leading to their penalty killers being overworked. The team took five penalties last night but the PK bailed them out big time, including when it counted most over the final 1:14 of the game.
The addition of Joel Edmundson to the penalty killing group has been massive to say the least. He and Brett Pesce have been getting the majority of the shifts when down a man and his physical presence has been a massive help. This other side to this is it is allowing Jaccob Slavin to back down on his ice time slightly and while everyone knows #74 can handle the workload, a little rest never hurt anyone.
The Hurricanes know they have to work on the amount of penalties they are taking. They cannot expect their guys to bail them out five times in every game. But last night they were absolutely outstanding. From Edmundson, to Pesce, to Jordan Staal, and even Haydn Fleury, the guys got it down and they were the biggest reason the Canes were able to leave LA with a 2-0 victory.
Moral of the Story
Nobody ever wants to be the reason for teardrops on Bailey’s guitar but this Bunch of Jerks just had to do it. Petr Mrazek was rock solid in net last night earning his first shutout of the season and the penalty killers bailed out the Hurricanes just enough to preserve the victory.
Carolina knows they have to cut down the penalties and sharpen up their game as they face tougher teams and that will come in time. Sebastian Aho will eventually find his stride and nobody wants to be in his path once he does.
For now, the Canes can crank up the Tim McGraw, relax, and ride their White Horse up to San Jose for tonight’s match-up again former Hurricanes legend Patrick Marleau and the Sharks.
Oh, and one last thank you to the LA Kings for setting up this article. Never in my life did I think this would be a real thing, but Look What You Made Me Do!
(Brian - I apologize, that is all LOL)