With all of the emotions surrounding their victory on Thursday night it would have been easy for the Carolina Hurricanes to not show up for their game against the Philadelphia Flyers last night. But with plenty to still play for the Canes came out and got the job done 4-3.
It wasn’t pretty — in fact, there was a fair amount of simply bad hockey played by the Hurricanes — but they were able to bury their heads and secure the victory, ensuring a date with the Washington Capitals in round one.
The Good - Scoring Early
For the second consecutive game Warren Foegele got the Hurricanes’ first goal. For the vast majority of the season Foegele was quiet, even being scratched multiple times. After his hot start to his NHL career that saw him score five goals in his first six games, he struggled to find the back of the net. But every night you could see him outwork opponents and creating chances.
Things have finally started to take a turn for Foegele as he now has three goals in his past six contests. Depth scoring will be needed in the playoffs and if this is a sign of things to come for Foegele that could be great for the Canes.
Just as with on Thursday, Foegele’s goal would be followed with a goal by Justin Faulk. This time it wasn’t on the power play, but it was still Faulk’s shooting ability that gets the puck in to the net. Jordan Martinook set the play up and Faulk was there to fire it home.
Justin Faulk is heating up pic.twitter.com/9AqwgKoE5N— x - Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) April 7, 2019
Teuvo Teravainen would add a goal in the first period allowing the Canes to take a 3-1 lead to the locker room. After all the emotions that poured out on Thursday, coming out not ready to play was a real fear for the Canes. Getting on the board early and often was a positive sign that they can put the previous game behind them and come out ready to play.
The Bad - Plenty
Every single player on the Canes squad would tell you last night was not their best game. After going up 3-1 they allowed the Flyers to crawl back in to the game seeing their lead erased. Simple mistakes that could have been avoided led to every Flyers goal, missed defensive assignments being the most obvious area of concern.
Instead of dwelling on these mistakes, it’s easier to say move on and forget this one. The players know their level of play was not good enough and, so long as they come out ready to play against the Capitals, their mistakes versus Philly were harmless.
The Great - Jordan Staal
Believe it or not, Jordan Staal may be the Hurricanes’ best asset in a playoff series. The Hurricanes played some of their best hockey of the entire season without Staal, yet despite winning so many games they lacked what he brings to the table every night. Staal is the type of player opposing players hate playing against. He is big, tough, hard to move off the puck, and great at face-offs.
The best part about #11 is his offensive game is starting to come around on top of his stellar defensive play. He scored the game winner last night and has scored eleven points in his last twelve matches. Playing alongside Teuvo Teravainen has certainly helped his cause as Teravainen is the hottest offensive player on the Canes roster right now.
Outside of Justin Faulk, no other player has been along for this playoff-less drought longer than Staal. There’s also no doubt that Staal has been through more emotionally than any other member of the Hurricanes throughout the years, and that is why it will be a true joy to watch #11 take the ice against the Capitals this coming week. He is the very definition of a leader and deserves to play playoff hockey more than just about anyone.
Moral of the Story
Everyone knows last night was not a great game for the Hurricanes but they found a way. That’s been the motto for this team since the calendar turned: just find a way. Their victory ensured they would not face the Tampa juggernaut and gives them a chance to take some revenge on the Capitals.
For now, flush the memories of last night and move on. Get ready for some playoff hockey! This week is sure to be filled with crazy emotions for everyone but for the players they have to keep it simple. Forget about your mistakes last night, get rested, and prepare for some fun hockey.