The Carolina Hurricanes came one win away from reaching the Eastern Finals last season, despite going 0-6 on the road in the 2022 playoffs. to remedy the situation, because it could get complicated if their series against the Islanders is prolonged.
For now, however, the Hurricanes are in the car. Jesper Fast hit the target 5:3 into the first overtime to give the North Carolina a 4-3 win on Wednesday to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round series.
That said, we have already seen more convincing as a 2-0 lead. In Game 1, the Hurricanes didn’t generate much five-on-five and got away with it on the power play.
In that second game, they needed two gifts from the usually stingy Ilya Sorokin to win, as well as an incredibly lucky, or incredibly unlucky, goal, depending on your perspective.
However, the Hurricanes were already deprived, starting, of two wingers of first line in Andrei Svechnikov and Max Pacioretty. Another winger, Teuvo Teravainen, suffered a broken hand, Rod Brind’Amour announced after the game. Martin Necas also had health problems during the match. This is without forgetting Jordan Staal, hit hard in the back at the end of the first period.
Coincidence or not, the Islanders practice a taxing style for the opponent, 18 little William Wallace on skates.
Their fourth unit is dubbed the “Identity Trio,” and it’s not about an identity of finesse and lace. His three clients, Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck, enjoy flattening their opponents against fiberglass. It was Martin who floored Staal, kicking him in the back before sitting on top of him like… like… In fact, the sequence was so unique that you can’t find a parallel.
The Islanders, therefore, finished the game with 54 hits to their record, including 17 from the Cizikas line alone. Jaccob Slavin was targeted six times; Jalen Chatfield, five times; just like poor Seth Jarvis, ultra talented, but still puny at 175 lbs.
Speaking of weight, the Islanders’ 12 forwards average 206 lbs, a stark contrast to the 192 lbs of the Hurricanes’ 12 forwards.
The series now moves to the UBS Arena, where the islanders, who already needed no encouragement to physically impose themselves, will be carried away by a raucous crowd. The Hurricanes better not forget their shoulder pads.
Lane Lambert, former glory of the Nords who now manages the Islanders, looked furious after the game-winning goal. Moments before the net, Scott Mayfield had indeed been hit in the face by Jordan Martinook’s stick, in front of the eyes of two officials. On the restart, however, Mayfield seemed to have lifted Martinook’s stick himself. Is that why the refs let the gesture pass? Who knows.
Anyway, the New Yorkers did not get any power play in this game, and we also note that their first line was rather quiet. Coaches say it again and again: power plays give the most talented players control of the puck, which generally helps them feel better.
We have to admit that Mathew Barzal, Bo Horvat and Anders Lee have been very discreet. Barzal certainly scored, but it was thanks to the flair of his teammate Adam Pelech, who read the play well in the neutral zone to intercept Brady Skjei’s pass and restart the attack. Besides, we saw very little of the three companions, and it was rather Brock Nelson’s unit that led the visitors’ attack.
So the Islanders can’t just rely on their intimidating physical presence. An offensive awakening of the best elements will also be required. Lou Lamoriello made a big splash this winter by getting Horvat from the Canucks. It’s time for him to pay off, because with a core of 30-somethings, his team isn’t built for success three years from now.