Canadian 1 – Hurricanes 4 | Fluctuating progress

(Raleigh) Martin St-Louis often repeats that the progression of a hockey team – and probably many other things – is not a linear process.

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The Canadian’s 4-1 defeat in Carolina on Thursday night demonstrated this in several ways.

With four points amassed in a victory and two shootout losses, the team concludes this four-game trip to the southeastern United States with a truly decent record. Against better-off opponents, CH pulled together and delivered performances that they have nothing to be ashamed of. The concept, however, found its limits in Raleigh.

The visitors certainly put up a good fight, on an ice rink where they have not won for years. But in the third period, one of the two teams was clearly the better. And it wasn’t the Habs.

“I feel that this trip is a big positive,” summarized the head coach after the meeting. We show that we can compete against anyone. »

Several times he spoke about the fact that his club was “getting closer” to the top clubs. This does not mean, however, that he is moving at high speed in their direction or that he is heading in a straight line. Breaks and detours are inevitable. Some progress will be slow, others rapid.

Two examples taken from Thursday’s match illustrate this latter phenomenon.

The first, positive, comes from the numerical disadvantage. This is probably the department that has stalled the most this season. He was bad last year, he has been bad since the start of the campaign. Too often, its artisans have seemed confused, messy, predictable.


Juraj Slafkovsky (20)

Now, well, this unit has been perfect over the last three games and has only given in once in its last 16 opportunities, which gives it an efficiency of 93.8% in the interval. The sample is certainly limited, but we especially remember the way in which the Montreal quartets worked in Carolina.

Faced with one of the best mass attacks in the NHL, the CH specialists were organized, alert and aggressive. In about six minutes, they only let the Hurricanes put three shots on target.

“We changed little things that allow us to make better readings,” underlined David Savard at the end of the evening. There is more clarity in our numerical disadvantage and that allows us to take more penalties. (…) These are things we talk about a lot. We try to continue to improve. »

Digital advantage

The other example of fluctuating progress comes from the power play.

Over the past two months, the improvement had been phenomenal at five against four. The first wave almost systematically had good matches, generating quality scoring chances on almost every opportunity they had to surge into the opposing zone.

Not only has power play production slowed – one goal in 20 chances over the last eight games – but it was particularly painful on Thursday.

Nick Suzuki certainly hit the post in the first period. But in the second and third, the punishments suffered by the locals became so many missed opportunities for the visitors. The puck moved less fluidly, chances and shots were rare – barely two shots on target in almost seven minutes.


Nick Suzuki (14) and Frederik Andersen (31)

And without a spectacular save from Samuel Montembeault, CH would have conceded another goal with an extra man. In the final period, Suzuki attempted a blind backhand pass towards Mike Matheson. The pass was instead perfect for Seth Jarvis, who escaped.

“It was a stupid change of heart on my part,” said the captain. It was a horrible game, I can’t do that. (…) Jarvis was waiting for me right there. »

On the subject of five-on-four failures, Suzuki recalled that the Hurricanes were one of the best shorthanded clubs in the league and have been for years. He also added that if he and his teammates had taken advantage of their chances at the start of the match, they could have built on a ripple effect. It’s possible.

Regarding Suzuki’s change of heart, St-Louis noted that “these are things that can be corrected”, but that, moreover, “the intentions were there”.

These correctable errors still become recurring. But above all they bring us back to this non-linearity of the process. The numerical advantage seemed to have unlocked, but here he was again looking for a spark. We could say a bit of the same thing about the first trio, moreover. Cole Caufield hasn’t scored in 14 of the last 15 games. Juraj Slafkovsky, who is probably nursing an injury, has only collected one point in his last eight outings. Yet they seemed to be walking on water not so long ago.

Alongside these regressions, other elements have moved forward. We have already talked about the numerical disadvantage which is having some good moments, but we could also look at Joshua Roy, for example, who looks a lot like an NHL player.

All is not lost, after all. Progress exists, we can see it clearly. However, there are so many issues to tackle simultaneously that the result sometimes resembles a learner driver trying to tame the manual transmission.

He will arrive at his destination sooner or later. But it could be long. And bumpy.


Samuel Montembeault


Sam Montembeault (35)

He’ll probably want to see the first goal again, but he kept his teammates in the game until late in the third period.


Jake Evans

A puck he lost led directly to the Hurricanes’ winning goal, and he struggled throughout the evening in his confrontations against the opposing second and third lines.

The number of the match


We were having fun the day before Rafaël Harvey-Pinard’s setbacks in the faceoff circle, but he was the only center player in his club to win the majority of his confrontations on Thursday: 3 out of 5, or 60%.

In details

Frederik Andersen returns

To hear the “Fred-dy!” Fred-dy! » during the presentation of the players, we wondered why there were so many people here nostalgic for the Quebec TV series starring Dominique Pétin and Luc Guérin. After verification, it was indeed Frederik Andersen that the supporters were enthusiastically encouraging. The goalkeeper actually returned to the game against the Canadian after missing 50 games due to problems linked to a blood clot. The Dane quickly gave in on a long shot from Joshua Roy, but he subsequently looked very solid, stopping 24 shots. He notably stood up, in quick succession, in front of Josh Anderson and Brendan Gallagher at the start of the third period, and he was awarded the first star. To make room for him in the lineup, Hurricanes management submitted Antti Raanta’s name to waivers.

Joshua Roy, again

The only scorer for his club in Carolina, Joshua Roy scored in a second game in a row. And he thought he had scored again in the third period following a great individual maneuver, but the officials refused the goal, judging that Alex Newhook had hindered the goalkeeper in his work. Martin St-Louis toyed with the idea of ​​contesting this decision, but he was “not sure enough” of his move, especially with a score of 2-1. “Maybe I should have taken a chance,” he said after the match. However, he once again complimented the 20-year-old Quebecer. “He plays very good hockey,” he said. He is creative, he has confidence. It’s a shame he was denied this goal. »

Under pressure in Carolina

If there’s one thing you shouldn’t give the Hurricanes, it’s a third-period lead. The CH, in fact, only had two shots on target during the last 10 minutes of play, including one very late with a score of 4-1. The Montrealers were played the same trick on their last visit to Raleigh at the end of December. The Hurricanes, in fact, are known for the pressure they exert on both offense and defense. “In third, they didn’t allow us to change, which forced us to play long shifts,” noted David Savard. “They are hard to face,” added Nick Suzuki. They are really aggressive, always in your face, and never give you time. » Knowing in addition that the organization has just acquired Jake Guentzel from the Pittsburgh Penguins, the dilapidated PNC Arena promises to be particularly hostile in the playoffs.


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