Before this NHL season started, I made myself a promise. Under no circumstances would I be suckered by the Carolina Hurricanes again. It would be the first time in a while I wasn’t lured in, seduced by the treats I thought I would find within the Canes’ bandwagon, only to be thrown into a boiling cauldron with my fellow captives. I’m going to stick to it. Their signing of Tony DeAngelo certainly helps one keep the promise of never warming up.
There is always a pleasing aroma snaking its way through the woods and through your window when it comes to the Canes. A group of bedeviling players you can’t help but enjoy. The Storm Surge after victories shows the kind of personality and joy that hockey usually does its best to shit all over. An understanding of the game in the modern era and how it’s evaluated. There’s a turn-of-the-century Oakland A’s vibe with the Canes. They don’t have the biggest resources, but they just know something you don’t. And they’re having more fun than you are.
But they always faceplant when it counts. Whatever seed they grab, whatever they look like in the regular season, their lack of attention to the goalie position and/or the deficit of truly top-line players always does them in. They’ve eaten it to the far more star-laden Bruins or Lightning in the recent past, as is their way, in most striking fashion.
They’re really making a push this year. They’re atop the Metro Division, with three games in hand on the second-place Rangers. They’re only three points back of the conference and NHL-leading Panthers, but have three games in hand on them as well. And last night, they kicked around the Bruins by a touchdown (7-1), in Boston on what was supposed to be an emotional and charged Willie O’Ree jersey retirement night. Sure, they caught Tuukka Rask still very much working off the rust in just his second game back, and he only managed seven saves on 12 shots.
And sure, the Canes’ analytics are once again glittering. They always are. In a vacuum or in a simulation, they could easily win a Cup. And Freddie Andersen is walking around these days with a .930 save-percentage Perhaps he’s enjoying the freedom away from the Toronto soul-destroying pressure cooker. He, and they, are really trying to convince everyone it’ll be different this time. Don’t give in.
I know better. I know what Freddie Andersen does when the lights are brightest. He’s just good enough to break your heart. I know that the whole Canes team is that. They’ll pull you in, make you believe that this is the time the analytics win. That you don’t need the names and the glow to get a parade. You just have to do everything right. And right after you sell out for them… darkness. Failure. Emptiness.
You won’t get me this time, Canes. You go into the spring with Andersen. You get to a Game 7 against the Penguins or Rangers or Lightning or whomever it might be. I’ve seen this movie. There’ll be some floating shot from the point, late in the 1st period. Maybe the 2nd. Some flipper that looks like a moth desperately trying to find a light. You’ll watch it pass by the circles, d-men flapping at it but sure in the knowledge it’ll get stopped at the gates of the crease. And then Andersen will make some gesture that looks like he just sat on a couch cushion damp with a recent spill. And it’ll squeeze through him. And it’ll apologetically, confusedly make its way to the back of the net, barely caressing it, almost too quietly as if it doesn’t want to wake anyone up.
Your team will freeze. There will be no one to put their foot down and say, “Not tonight.” All your gleaming metrics, all your fun, will count for nothing. I know. You know.
Meet the new Canes…same as the old Canes…
Here’s one for ya:
Yes, Maurice was taken.
I don’t know if this is a Steve Miller reference or to the Clint Eastwood movie that passed by your consciousness without notice some 20 years ago. If they make the logo Donald Sutherland and his shades from that movie (yes, I’ve seen it), then I guess I’m in. Just don’t make it Tommy Lee Jones in a towel (it was a thing, but you don’t need to go find this film).