Luke Tkachov, The News & Observer, has been covering the Carolina Hurricanes for over five years. We'll just leave it at that.
We don't need to date anybody here. He joins us, as he always does, on Friday. The Hurricanes clinched the division last night. I'm not sure you're aware of that.
I know you're aware of it. So, how do you sum up this season and the fact that they were the second best team in the NHL? All of their challenges. How do you kind of balance that? Do you feel like everything is going well? You look at last night and the goals they gave up, and then the goals they scored, and then the goals they gave up again, and then the goals they scored again. It doesn't feel like the goaltending is very good, and the power play is obviously garbage, and guys are hurt, but it's still a team that put up 113 points in the regular season. That's a crazy number, and you go back to where we were six years ago, eight years ago, nine years ago, it would take two years to put up 113 points.
So, I get it. I'm not saying that people are panicking for no reason. It doesn't feel right, but it's also the kind of situation where you start from zero, and I do think this team has been in a sort of motivational dead zone for a couple months now. This is a chance to refocus and pay for something real.
Luke DeCocke of the News & Observer is joining us here on the Adam Gold Show at Luke DeCocke on Twitter. The amount of we can't win, among the fans, right? The amount of that, the gnashing of teeth over the inability to do all of these things, I think in a way, it defies logic that they finished with the second best record in the league, right? They were just 13, 11, and 1 in their last 25 games.
That's a pretty long period of time. That's almost a third of the season to be a 500 hockey club at the wrong time. Yet, they're still where they are. They did it without, at best, league average goaltending. They did it with one of the, you know, 10 worst power plays in the game. They already had scoring issues going in, independent of their own power play woes, and they have a somewhat depleted roster among the forwards that were supposed to score.
And yet, here's where they are. Does it say something about the coaching, about actually the players and how they go about their business? Yeah, and I think it says something about the depth of the roster. You know, you look at the guys who are on the third and fourth line, these are much better players than they were even five years ago, than they were in 19 or 20 or 21. You know, the continuing development and talent progression on the team, whether it's young players or making a, you know, a splash for a guy like Kokiemi, who's starting to really round into the player he was supposed to be all along. You know, those things end up mattering in the long run. You know, you build your talent base, you upgrade, you develop.
These are all things that benefit you in the long run. So, you know, when you call up a guy like Jack Drury, you haven't rushed into the league. He's had time to develop and play in the A and comes up and can contribute on the fourth line. So, you know, I think this is all part of what good teams do. They win when they're not at their best. They put a point when they may be frustrating to watch and not everybody's going to be the Bruins and do everything right all the time. But the fact is we've forgotten how hard it is sometimes to go 13 11 and one, you know, that, that teams that face this kind of adversity might go, you know, eight 16 and one in that stretch and fall down the rankings. We saw it with the penguins. We saw it with the capital. These are not untalented hockey teams, but yeah, I think it talks to the coaching.
It talks to the, the, the sort of senior leadership in the room, whether that's guys wearing letters or not. And it speaks to the depth of talent up and down the roster, the depth on defense, the depth on the third and fourth line that you can lose some of your top players and still grind out enough wins to win the division. And, and, and, you know, even if it came down to game 82, that said, I do think the Islanders are a better matchup for them than the Rangers or Panthers would have been. And that, that actually is a pretty good spot for them.
Oh yeah. There's, there's no question. If you were, if we were picking and choosing who Carolina could have played among the three options going in Carolina got the most favorable option. But as I always caution, anybody can beat anybody.
So you still got to go out and perform on the ice. I know you have been a Freddie Anderson is the guy that they need to, that gives them the best chance. Are you still in the Freddie Anderson camp? Freddie Anderson's the guy that gives them the best chance to win.
Yeah, no, and I still feel that way. I feel like if they're going to win the Stanley Cup, Freddie Anderson is still that guy as badly as he's played because his feeling is so high. But I also think, you know, you can, maybe if you've made it through the regular season, going with three goalies and rotating through, there's no reason there's no rule. There's no law that says you have to be number one guy for game one and play him until he stinks.
You know, you can, you can go into it with a plan. And Rob's done this before to say, we're going to play, you know, Ronda and game one, which is what I think they should do based on the way they played recently. Go with Freddie in game two and make a decision who we're going to start in game three later, later, and maybe we'll just keep alternating them if we're doing well.
I don't have any problem with that. The, the idea that you have to have a number one guy matters if you have a number one guy, but the hurricanes have a one, a one a and a one B. You might as well just, you know, treat it like December and just play, play the guys and see who wins. You, you would start Ronda game one, correct? I would. Yeah, no, I'm a Freddie guy, but I think he gives you the best chance to win on Monday.
Yes, I would start right. I have a goalie ranking for the playoffs. I wanted to, I was waiting for you to come on to give this to you. Will, uh, will, uh, Luke, gosh, uh, Ronda one could check off to, uh, Yaniv parrots, the kid from Quinnipiac three trip, Tracy for David Ayers, five, Greg Goldberg, six.
Buddy ducks fans will get it. Uh, Frederick Anderson. Well, first of all, I disagree wholeheartedly.
Cause I'd have George all of them are tip ahead of Freddie. No, look pretty good. And he, he looked good at times last night and he looked like he was had completely switched off at times last night. And I think you've got to find a way to get him the reps to, to, in the playoffs because you know, one, eventually he either is or isn't going to dispense with this playoff bugaboo that he brought with him from Toronto. Um, you know, this, this, this, you know, monkey on his back that he's not a playoff goalie despite what he did in Anaheim. Um, and then obviously last year he never gave himself the chance to dispel it because he was out of the entire ranger series.
Um, you know, I think you have to give him that chance. If you look, if you play Ronson game one and he plays great and you play Freddie in game two and he plays like he did in the third period last night, then Hey, then, then you get, then you go with the guy who gives you the best chance to win. But I think in the longterm, if you, if your goal is to win 16 games, not four games, you need to find a way to try to get Freddie Anderson hot because he gives you the best chance to win 16 games. Doesn't mean you can't do it without him, but I think when you look at everything, getting that guy going is going to give you the best chance to beat the Bruins. It's going to give you the best chance to beat whoever comes out of the West. If the hurricanes get that far. That said, you know, if Ronson is playing well, I got no problem, no problem starting in Monday, Wednesday, and see where that goes. Yeah.
You can play Ronson until he breaks, which might be Monday. I'm to be perfectly honest. That's his history. And it's funny that Toronto always blamed Freddie yet. Does it make a difference who the goalie has been?
They haven't won. So maybe it's Toronto too much for that. Yeah, no, I don't blame Freddie too much for that, but he also hasn't had the chance to dispel that injury last year because of how long it took him to get in playing shape. This is a chance for him to dispel that even if he's not in his best form. I think you still need to give him that chance at some point to two more quick things about the hurricanes that I want to ask you about a couple of other college college ish things. The first is, do you have any level of optimism that when they drop the puck Monday, the person who is impersonating Tevo Taravanan will leave and let Tevo take over his own body? I mean, they're running out of things to play him with, uh, you know, it's, it's, that was always the, you know, the, the, the magic button for Tevo when he was in one of his funks was to put him with a couple of fins and, you know, let them talk finish. And he would be okay.
I, I don't know. It just, it hasn't been a great season for him. Um, top to bottom, you know, he's an extremely talented player who can make great plays. He's another guy who quite frankly, you and I both know this, if he wants to stay here, he needs a big postie.
Yeah. Because the contract's going to become an issue. So if that doesn't motivate him, I don't know what will, the fact of the matter is his regular season was not good enough to earn him a contract extension. He's got to show something in the post season or the hurricanes with a year left to go on his deal are going to have to make a move this summer.
I don't think anyone wants that. I think he likes it here. The fans like him, he can be a great player. He can, he can be a point producer. Oh, he certainly gets the opportunities to do that.
Just for whatever reason, this season it's looked like preseason table. I mean, he's uniformly terrible in preseason games and it's almost like he never shook off that funk all year. And look, we all know he's not like Mr. Bubbly. He's not a standup comedian, although he has an extremely funny and dry sense of humor. I mean, I think he's one of the funnier players on the team. If you stop and listen to him, he's, he's really, but he's, you know, he can be a little dower at times. I think they got to find a way to, to, to get him going and, and get him, you know, a little more active and all, all those things you say about a guy in a swamp, but you know, he doesn't have to be Mr. Happy. He just has to be table terror mind. And that's, that's usually good enough. Yeah.
I think he unlocks everything. I think if they get the best out of table, Tara vine and makes the power play better, it makes their five on five play better because whoever he's playing with is going to be more effective that it's so critical for their overall success. And we, we've already talked about it, that this team with all their challenges, that is to get 113 points, second best in the league. They have, they won the toughest division, I think in the sport, in the Metro for the second straight year. How do they play? How do they have to play to not only witness series, but beat the Rangers or devils in the next one and, and kind of break back through to the conference fun. I mean, I, this is, this is some classic hockey cliche, but I think they need a few breaks to go their way. You know, they, they need to play the way that they, that, that, that makes them successful.
Right. Which is, you know, very tight defensively put on the gas with the park out shooting teams out, chanting teams and getting enough goaltending where they're not out shooting the other team 12 one and down one nothing, which is sort of the nightmare scenario with this team. And it's kind of feels like, you know, what happened every game of the ranger series, win or lose last year. So they, they, they need to score and score early. I think that's the thing that's going to give this team the most confidence. Um, you know, a little reward for that effort, a little reward for those shot totals makes everything easier.
So, you know, it's easy to save me sitting here saying, oh, well just score more, you know, just go hit more home runs. Um, but, but I think that if we see that early on in the playoffs, that is going to have a steamroll effect where everything else is going to be easier. If they're playing every game and it's a one goal game and they're out shooting the Islanders 42 to 15, you know, we're going to get into some of the mental issues they had last year against the Rangers. And especially with the way the last month, month and a half, two months have gone, you know, they're, they're prone to that right now. So I just, I think a little positive reinforcement at the beginning would go a really long way for this team in terms of its, you know, it's four round potential, not just its first round potential. Again, that's not like saying, oh, well, let's move a guy to the other side of the power play or switch up the lines.
It's not something tangible that Rob Brynner can put on the whiteboard, uh, tomorrow morning in practice. But I do think that's going to be the critical thing. If there's a little positive reinforcement early in that Islander series and things go well, they will snowball. If there's not, then it's going to be that uphill swag that we saw last year and we've seen for the last month to a certain extent. Yeah, I think if they play their normal game, I think they'll get past the Islanders.
Don't veer off it. Play that game. You'll beat the Islanders. I don't know if it'll be better to beat the teams that can score more when you give them the slightest opening. I don't think the Islanders are necessarily that team.
All right. Final thing for Luke to cock of it is an observer at Luke to cock on Twitter. So are we going to do the thing again like we did a year ago? I know Duke didn't go to the national championship game and have a 15 point lead on the eventual champ. But they're going to return Kyle Philipowski and Mark Mitchell and Tyrese Proctor. And my guess is probably Jeremy Roach. They're going to return four starters and they're going to have good players and we're going to make them like preseason number two. We can do the same thing. Well, yeah, I mean, I think we are because I don't think there's any argument there. I mean, I think especially if Roach comes back, you know, they look like the best team in the country, whether they are or not. I'm not sure they're the best team in the ACC. I mean, I think Miami's in that conversation whether Roach comes back or not.
But yeah, no. And look, teams don't teams like Duke don't return four starters anymore. I know UNC did last year and that was it.
But that was a different situation. UNC did not have a history of excellence. It had a history of a first round NCAA tournament loss.
Six good weeks. And then they came back as preseason number one, hoping to get to build on that momentum and didn't. Duke has a history of winning an ACC title of being pretty good throughout the season and getting better throughout it. And then losing an NCAA tournament game that was frankly a tough matchup.
And now I'm not making excuses here that you have to play through it, but it was not the best officiated game of the tournament. And so, you know, you look at all that and say, well, yeah, well, Duke's got a much higher ceiling. I think Duke had a much higher ceiling at the end of this season and we'll have an even higher ceiling to start next season. Now, you know, what happens to Philipowski coming off the surgery?
Will he be ready? It's almost immaterial when you have that much talent coming back. And a guy like Mark Mitchell, who was just scratching the surface last year with his athleticism and his length and his ability to do, you know, he's got a little bit of he's a different player. But in terms of being a Swiss Army knife, he's got a little bit of leaky black in him. You know that that's a guy who can do a lot of things.
Who can defend his rebound and, you know, when he scored 10 points a game, they won. Period. You know, so there's a lot of talent there. I don't have any problem if people want to say just number one. I'm not going to make that sort of pronouncement yet.
We're going to wait and see what happens elsewhere in the portal and whatnot. I don't have any problem if you want to say today, Duke's the best team in the country for next year. And quite frankly, when you have that kind of talent coming back, those are the expectations you wear, just like UNC did. I would compare Mark Mitchell to Justice Winslow in that can plug him anywhere, right?
No, there's that there's that, too. Although Mitchell never tripped anybody that I know of. Well, and Justice Winslow, don't forget, Justice Winslow came into college a man. He had a 25 year old body as an 18 year old. Mark Mitchell's not there yet.
No, you're right. But but but in terms of his role and the role that he could play for a good team, he could play the Justice Winslow role for Duke next year just as a sophomore instead of a freshman. I love Justice Winslow, one of my favorite players, one of literally one of my favorite players.
That whole team had a tremendous personality to it. Luke Tkach, as you do, I will talk to you and see you soon, my friend. I appreciate your time, as always. All right, Adam. Take care. You got it. Luke Tkach of the News and Observer.
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