After going 8-1-1 down the stretch, the Carolina Hurricanes held their playoff destiny in their own hands. All that stood between them and a playoff berth were the Tampa Bay Lightning going into their season finale; the Lightning were already locked into their playoff spot and the Hurricanes were fighting for the playoff lives. So when the Lightning dropped the hammer on the Canes (6-2), it made for a long summer for the players in Raleigh. As the players start filtering back to Carolina, it’s apparent that the way last season ended left a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth.
Chad LaRose spoke with Chip Alexander from the News Observer about the way the season ended and the painful offseason:
“Let’s say I’ve got some unfinished business. It’s like it’s been forever. It’s been way too long.
“What you shoot for is short summers. When it gets long like this you’re itching and chomping at the bit to get back and get going.”
All-star netminder Cam Ward echoed his teammates’ sentiments to Carolina beat-writer:
“We’ve got high expectations here. By no means do we want to be seated at home watching the playoffs again.”
Chad LaRose is leading the informal offseason workouts for the Hurricanes this season—a role that is new for him and the organization. For years, these workouts were led by veteran (and renowned fitness freak) Rod Brind’Amour. But with Brind’Amour retiring, LaRose has stepped up and taken an offseason leadership role with the team. Other Hurricanes players in town for training include promising youngsters Justin Faulk, Zac Dalpe, and Jamie McBain. Faulk and Dalpe are looking to make the team out of training camp while the promising McBain is looking to solidify his spot as a major producer from the blueline.
For a team that was only 60 minutes away from a playoff berth, it should be fascinating to see how much motivation to start the season. Coming so close, then failing, then having the entire offseason to reflect is like the antithesis to the Stanley Cup hangover. Last season, they were unable to dig themselves out of their deep hole in the standings even though they were one of the hottest teams throughout the end of March and into April. But if they can get off to a hot start next season, they won’t have to worry about a late season run to squeeze into the playoffs.
The Hurricanes will have a few newcomers to successfully mix into the fold if they want to flourish next season. Tomas Kaberle arrives from Boston to fill the spot on the blueline that was formerly held by Joe Corvo. Alexei Ponikarovsky will look to regain the scoring touch that’s made him a four-time 20 goal scorer and Anthony Stewart will try to prove that last season was only the beginning of him realizing his vast potential.
If the newcomers can produce like GM Jim Rutherford hopes and the returning players play with a chip on their shoulder, they will be back to the promised land of the playoffs faster than you can say “Skinner for Prom King.”
Alexander Edler probably feels some serious shame right now.
The Vancouver Canucks defenseman is getting some heat for a bad blunder on what became the Los Angeles Kings’ overtime game-winning goal by Anze Kopitar.
You can see the decisive goal in the video above, which meant a 2-1 overtime victory for the Kings over the Canucks.
Just a (safe for work) sampling of the reactions toward Edler:
Again, those are the more … sanitized reactions.
Jacob Markstrom didn’t get the win despite keeping Vancouver in the game. The big Swede made 38 out of 40 saves, yet that last goal will burn.
For Los Angeles, it’s another reminder that this team sure is scrappy.
Let’s be honest: it’s better to go late into a game with a lead against the Kings, but a small margin makes for some serious discomfort.
Sometimes an angry Evgeni Malkin means a stray power play or two for his opponents, but it’s usually not the best idea to make him angry.
Giving a player that big and talented extra motivation just seems like a bad idea, right?
Joel Ward experienced that phenomenon on Tuesday, as Malkin responded to a blow from Ward with the goal you can see below.
Malkin scored a goal and two assists while Phil Kessel found the net twice in Pittsburgh’s 5-1 win against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.
Malkin now has a four-game goal streak going (five goals, three assists). He also has 13 points in his past seven games.
Marc-Andre Fleury deserves plenty of credit, too, as he stopped 33 out of 34 shots and continues to quietly generate some of the best work of his sometimes-polarizing career.
This was a nice way for the Penguins to begin a four-game Western road trip, although they’ll need to wait a while to try to keep it going; their next game comes in Los Angeles on Saturday.
You know what they say: “What a difference a game makes.”
Even in the 82-game marathon that an NHL regular season is, that can be true.
Ryan Suter admitted he went too far with comments during tough times, yet there he was on Tuesday night, grinning ear-to-ear after scoring the 2-1 goal that ended up being the game-winner.
Heck, people were even joking about things. The healing powers of winning, right?
As of this writing, this win places Minnesota in the last wild card spot, and they’re close to elbowing in on the Chicago Blackhawks (who own a standings point advantage, but have played two more games so far in 2015-16).
Jeremy Roenick labels this 2-1 win as a “team win” for Minnesota, and it showed on that 2-1 goal, as the Wild showed off some picture-perfect passing and a willingness to crash the net for rebounds.
Let’s face it, though; Devan Dubnyk deserves plenty of credit, too.
It won’t be easy in the Central Division, and things may get heated again. Still, this is the sort of win that may just help Minnesota build up some confidence.
When you’re talking about bright sides, most people believe that they boil down to the light at the end of the tunnel for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a little success in the present while waiting for that bright future, though.
The Flyers are providing at least a burst of sunshine lately, as Tuesday’s 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators gives them … (drum roll) their first three-game winning streak of this season.
Even in recent darker moments, Philly’s been pretty impressive on offense, so Flyers fans are likely relieved to see a relative offensive outburst.
Sure, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns – Radko Gudas might have gotten himself into some trouble, for instance – yet this is still a nice sign of life for a team expected to finish in the draft lottery.
If that fails … hey, the future may require shades.