Cary, NC – After a miserable effort against the weakest team in the NHL for 2018 the night before, losing to the NY Rangers 6-3 in NY, the Canes had a 3-1 lead going into the third period against a very strong, rental-filled Boston Bruins team, increasing the lead to 4-1 within the first minute of the period, collapsing like house of cards, yielding five goals to virtually end their season.
The Canes played one of their best periods of the season in the second period, scoring three goals, two with a man advantage then what has to go down as one of the most disappointing and lackluster efforts, and frustrating for the Caniacs, in the forgettable third period.
Ward Is Sharp
The Bruins beefed-up big time at the trade deadline bringing in four rental players, including Rick Nash and his $7.8 million contract of which the Rangers retained half and Olympian Brian Gionta, who signed for a bargain price entry level contract. The Bruins hoped buying players will buy them a Stanley Cup and it might. They’re big, well-balanced and the only weakness, albeit a slight one, would be their defensive corps is slow and most are well past their prime. One thing that could hurt them in the playoffs is their chipiness off the puck. They’re a team that likes to get under the skin of their opponent: a grab here, slight hook there, slash to the legs, slash to the gloves, cross check to the back or glove face wash are all in their team DNA. If officials clamp down on this rather than swallow their whistles, they’ll be playing man down quite a bit.
Brad Marchand, the NHL’s #1 most hated player by opposing fans but you like him if a Bruins fan, started the game trying to agitate Justin Williams by lining up on the Canes side of the ice and shoving Willie behind the ref’s back. Willie went on notice for game-on as they spared a few seconds right after the face off. The Canes were chasing the Bruins most of the first showing the effects of being tired from the game 24 hours earlier while the Bruins were resting in Raleigh. Cam Ward was sharp as the Bruins got off eight shots within the first six minutes of the game, most if not all, were class A shots.
In that same time span, the Canes mustered only two shots that hardly challenged Tuuka Rask. Midway in the period, the Canes TSA line – Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho – came alive as they pummeled five hard shots but not one was on net. Late in the period, the Canes got possession of the puck behind Ward and started to clear the zone with soft close passes rather than lifting the puck high and over the blue line. The Bruins’ forechecking paid off as the Canes’ one pass too many got intercepted as David Pastrnak found Marchand all alone in front of Ward for a one-timer that started off the scoring.
Aho, Teravainen and Williams Put Canes Ahead
The second period belonged to the Canes and when they review the game tapes, they should concentrate on what went right as every player seemed to have their best minutes of the season. The Canes are built for speed and that speed kicked in and paid off in the second. Seabass had the puck going around his defender but was hooked drawing the penalty. The Canes’ powerplay looked great with crisp, fast passing and big bodies in the dirty area of the crease. After a pass from Justin Faulk on the left point, Teuvo Teravainen in the top center faked a look to the goal then made a pass to Seabass off the right circle. Seabass wasted no time putting a one timer slap shot into the upper corner to tie the game.
Almost 10 minutes later, with the Canes again on a powerplay, this time with a 5-on-3 advantage, the same play in reverse paid off. Faulk to Aho over to Teravainen for a one timer to put the Canes up 2-1. Late in the period with a faceoff to Rask’s left, Marchand was doing his thing on Willie again. Elias Lindholm won the faceoff back to Brock McGinn who took a quick shot that Rask stopped but the puck trickled between his legs stopping shot of the goal line. Willie had his eyes on the puck with Marchand’s only concern to obstruct Willie not realizing the puck where the puck was sitting. Willie’s grit and determination kicked in as he dove for the puck stretching his stick forward to knock the loose puck in giving the Canes a solid 3-1 lead. Just seeing the slight smirk on Willie’s face knowing he had to be thinking that Marchand’s antics cost Boston that goal was priceless.
Bruins Comeback Outshines McGinn’s Hustles
The Canes started the third with a man down as a hold over penalty to Brett Pesce in the second for an inadvertent trip. The Canes and Caniacs needed to kill off this penalty to give everyone the confidence this game was theirs. To make things even better, Lindy stole the puck at his own blue line and trying to settle the bouncing puck, made a break for the Bruins’ net. Rask made a good save but Ginner stayed with the play and tapped in the puck for the team’s third shorthanded goal of the season and a 4-1 lead.
Then the bottom fell out. The Bruins scored three goals in 1:17 to tie the game and getting every Bruins fan in the RBC Arena awake. Late in the period, Faulker tried a high clear but sent the puck to row M of section 121, smashing his stick on the ice in disgust. The Bruins scored on the powerplay and to add salt on the wound, for the second night in a row, allowed an empty netter for a hat trick. If Tom Dundon says he’s an impatient man and moved Ron Francis to another job, who knows what could be in store for anyone getting a paycheck in the Canes organization. Dundon has vowed to make going to the arena to watch the Canes a highly entertaining experience for Caniacs, not just opposing fans, and I suspect many other changes are in the works. And we hope, all for the better.
Next Game is Saturday, March 17, 2018 – St. Patrick’s Day – against the Flyers and a home grown series game which usually brings large crowds. Be there!