We’ve seen a lot of the Carolina Hurricanes this season, so much so it seems like it is the good ol’ Southeast Division days. Since realignment, the Hurricanes have been spending all their time with their new buddies over in the Metro Division, so it was nice to get reacquainted with them over the past few months.
Our friends over at Canes Country, the SBNation site that covers the Hurricanes, reached out to ask us a few questions about the Lightning. In exchange their editor, Andrew Schnittker, was nice enough to answer a few questions we lobbed over to them.
1. While the series with Nashville didn’t go the full seven it looked like the Preds pushed pretty hard. What did they do that gave the Hurricane’s trouble and are you worried the Lightning will be able to do the same?
The Predators did two things that gave the Hurricanes fits at times in their series against Nashville. The first was playing a bit of a “trap,” clogging up the neutral zone and making it difficult for the Hurricanes to enter the zone. The Canes thrive on entering the offensive zone with possession, getting in on the forecheck and creating chances off the rush. Clogging up the neutral zone can disrupt this team’s rhythm. While I think that’s something the Lightning certainly can execute well, given that they’re a much better defensive team than Nashville, I’m not sure they need to.
The other thing the Predators did to extend the series was get phenomenal goaltending from Juuse Saros. He was able to make some spectacular saves to keep Nashville in games, and was a big factor in them being able to win games three and four in double overtime.
Last I checked, the Bolts have a Russian netminder who’s certainly capable of the same.
2. What line do you think Rod Brind’Amour will use against the Palat/Point/Kucherov line?
As much as possible, I’m sure he’ll want Jordan Staal to be out there against that lethal trio. Staal’s most consistent wingers have been Warren Foegele and Jesper Fast, both of whom are sound defensive wingers. Staal plays “a heavy game” as Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said Friday afternoon. He’s one of the best shutdown centers in the league, capable of consistently matching up with opponents’ top forwards and keeping them off the score sheet.
If Brind’Amour has his way, I think he’ll want the Lightnig’s top line to see a heavy dose of the Hurricanes’ captain.
3. Things were pretty close between these two teams during the regular season, what do you think gives Carolina the edge in this series?
Similar to how the Lightning are a much different team with Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos in the lineup, Teuvo Teravainen did not play a single game of the regular-season series against these two, as he missed a large chunk of this season due to a bout with COVID and later concussion symptoms. Teravainen is, simply put, a massive piece for the Hurricanes.
He’s one of the most underrated players in the league, an elite playmaker and two-way winger. He’s capable of controlling play at 5-on-5, on the power play and on the penalty kill for the Hurricanes. When they’re clicking, the Hurricanes’ top line of Teravainen, Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov is flat-out dominant.
The Canes were a great team without Teravainen for much of the regular season. They’re a significantly better team with him in the lineup.
4. On social media, the Lightning seem to annoy opposing fans for a few reasons, which one annoys y’all the most?
A: No State Tax
B: Legal Cap Circumvention during the season.
C: Defending Champs
While I’m certainly envious of No State Tax, I’ve certainly seen plenty of griping from Hurricanes fans about the cap circumvention. But, as long as the Lightning/Lightning fans are honest about the fact that they exploited a loophole that gave them an advantage, I’m fine with it. There aren’t many teams that would be in a position to take advantage of the loophole, but Tampa was.
Now, if you want to say the league should re-examine the rules and look at closing said loophole, I think that’s a conversation worth having, but in that case it doesn’t make sense to blame the Lightning rather than the league. Hate the game, not the player.
5. Who is one player on the Hurricanes that Lightning fans may not know that will have an influence on how the series turns out?
I gave On The Forecheck Warren Foegele and he had kind of a quiet series, so I’m going to double down on that answer here.
Allow me to introduce you to playoff Warren Foegele. Foegele, a solid third-line winger who plays a good two-way game, has a tendency to turn into a beast this time of year. And Canes fans need look no further than the 2019 playoffs, in which Foegele scored five goals and nine points in 15 games, including some huge tallies in the Canes’ first-round upset of Washington, to know the impact he can have.
Something about the postseason brings out the best in Foegele, and causes him to step up his game, which can be quite hard to handle when he’s on, as Jordan Staal tells it:
“When he’s on, he can be one of the best players on the ice,” Staal said. “He skates so well, he’s got some great mitts on him. He’s got good vision and all the tools that you need. I think for me personally, his speed helps me out. He’s great on the forecheck, and I kind of just read off him while he goes barreling in there.”
If the Canes are going to knock out the Lightning, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Foegele score a big goal or two.
Thanks, Andrew. Look forward to a fun series between two teams that have a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup this season.