That’s right, after a nearly year long hiatus, the Systems Analyst column is back! Just like Joe Corvo or Justin Williams or Erik Cole or Joe Corvo again or Tim Gleason or Joe Corvo a third time, this column has returned to break down the good, bad and the ugly that is Carolina Hurricanes hockey.
Unfortunately, the column returns on a sour note.
The Hurricanes, donning their Hartford Whalers throwback uniforms, went into Boston on Tuesday evening looking to continue a five game winning streak. As for the opponent, the Bruins entered the night not having lost in regulation in 16 consecutive contests. After blowing another two goal lead, the Canes were able to tie the game in regulation before David Krejci potted his 16th goal of the season for the overtime winner.
The goal actually begins to develop a full 30 seconds before Krejci scores. The Hurricanes are set up well with an offensive zone faceoff, with the troika of Sebastian Aho, Nino Niederreiter and Justin Faulk on the ice. That was the same trio deployed for the overtime winner in Florida on Saturday night.
Unfortunately, thats when the bad luck struck. Aho’s stick snaps almost as soon as the puck was dropped, creating an easy win for the Bruins. It was the type of play that could make Bruins broadcaster Jack Edwards pause a rant on Dougie Hamilton’s number choice in order to issue a salute to composite sticks.
Aho is winning 48.6% of his faceoffs this season while Krejci has won 48.8% of his draws. With both centers on their strong side, it should have been an even matchup, but instead allows Boston to win possession.
From there, Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk wisely maintains possession before eventually giving the puck to Krejci who begins to build some speed.
Aho is in good position to angle Krejci to the outside or at least impede his momentum through nuetral ice, but instead opts to swing with Charlie McAvoy while Grzelyck changes for fresh legs in the form of Jake DeBrusk.
The cerebral Krejci realizes he will not be pressured and turns on the jets against a flat footed Justin Faulk.
Faulk is in decent position to start, but attempts to build up speed in order to match Krejci by crossing over. Instead of staying balanced with simple c-cuts, the crossovers shift all of Faulk’s momentum to his right, making it easy for Krejci to execute a quick move to Faulk’s left.
Faulk appears to be toast, but recovers adequately and Curtis McElhinney makes a strong save on Krejci.
Here’s where things get tricky for Faulk. DeBrusk picks his pocket, walks around the net and feeds a wide open David Krejci, who beat Dougie Hamilton back to the slot, for the winner.
Faulk, at the end of a long shift, is being dogged by DeBrusk who had just come on the ice. As you see in the still image below, Faulk does initially have some options.
Faulk can either chip an indirect pass in Aho’s direction or try feeding a puck to Hamilton who appears to have a step on Krejci. Faulk opts to stop moving his feet and throws on the brakes hoping to find Hamilton.
Now Aho is no longer an option unless Faulk wanted to complete a blind backhand wrap up the wall. But Krejci has made up some ground on Hamilton making the feed to Hamilton far more risky. Faulk decides the risk isn’t worth it and attempts to protect the puck from DeBrusk which obviously did not go as planned. It is worth mentioning that while Faulk features prominently in this goal against, Hamilton somehow loses Krejci entirely allowing for an uncontested finish for the Czech center.
It was a valiant effort to steal a point against a red hot Bruins team, but with seemingly every other contending Eastern Conference team getting two, it is hard not to feel a little dejected to come home with just one.
Ed. note: Yes, it’s another new byline - please join us in welcoming Ford Hatchett to the CC crew! Ford is a journalism and political science double major at Syracuse University and is a native of Raleigh, where he grew up playing youth hockey with some kid with the last name of Forslund. (Really. Yes, that one.) He plays club hockey at Syracuse and is also a reporter and editor at the NPR affiliate in central New York, on top of somehow finding time to go to class every so often. For now, Ford will he handling the Systems Analyst column, and as time goes on he will expand his role as circumstances allow. We are thrilled to bring Ford onto the staff - please join us in welcoming him to CC!