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Carolina Hurricanes Analyst, Tripp Tracy reflects on the Eastern Conference Final and the season

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May 25, 2023 2:43 pm

Carolina Hurricanes Analyst, Tripp Tracy reflects on the Eastern Conference Final and the season

The Adam Gold Show / Adam Gold

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May 25, 2023 2:43 pm

Tripp Tracy, Carolina Hurricanes Analyst reflects on the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers last night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final. He shares what the tenure of the team was on the flight back to Raleigh and what he thought was the ultimate difference in this series. He also answers the question of if they can benefit from having a goaltender like Bobrovsky, or a player like Tkachuck. 

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Trying to think how many times I talked with Trip Tracy this hockey season. It's got to be a hundred, right? Fifteen in the postseason. I didn't do every regular season game. I think I missed about six. But we talked sometimes on the show.

It's about a hundred times. Trip, so I figure, what's one more? How are you? Hi, AG. I enjoyed every bit of it with you.

Same with me. I've known you for so long. We're close personally and professionally. I enjoyed our hot stoves this year more than any other year.

How am I? It's a sting. So, as a broadcaster, it's just a brutal feeling today. And having been on that plane that got in at about two, three o'clock in the morning last night, whenever we landed, I can only imagine after all that they invested what it's like for the players. That's just the honest truth. But I'm sure when you start to get some distance, we'll celebrate what a magical year that it was. And part of that is I thoroughly have enjoyed the journey with you.

Same here. I'm curious. I don't know what you're even willing to divulge about the tenor of the flight back.

What was it like? Obviously, everybody is bummed because it's over. I kept saying it's not the fall, it's the sudden stop. And even though you're down 3-0 and they played so obviously very well, could have won any of the games, could have won last night's game. What is the tenor? Is there any level of optimism or is it just quiet, reflection, sleeping?

It's quiet, reflection. I can tell you that, for instance, even after a loss, and there weren't a ton of losses in the regular season this year or the last couple of regular seasons. There are two groups that even after a loss, it's a long season that guys play cards and typically even after a loss in the playoffs, not an elimination loss, and nobody's playing cards, you could hear a pin drop. It just totally epitomized the total investment of the players and the organization. More importantly, not importantly, but definitely you could feel A.G. that they knew how close they were and how difficult even with an elite team, which the Hurricanes have made it habit here recently to be an elite team. How difficult it is to even advance to the Eastern Conference Final.

You just don't know when that opportunity is going to present itself again. Simultaneously, I agreed with what you said last night. I can't remember which intermission it was. Last night, just like the other three games, Carolina could have swept the Florida Panthers. They didn't, but they could have. But last night was a different type of game. When I think about last night, I think about losing, going down 2-0, losing Slavin' early, playing the majority of the night with 11 forwards with Mason in and out.

Nature's even gone at one point in time, and they still found a way to tie it late. So a different type of game in my view than the other three, but still right there. But yes, that playing I think was somber because what you'd hope for if you're a Hurricanes fan that the players gave it everything that they had. There's no question that they did. Sebastian Ajo is one of those guys who does that all the time. I didn't love his reaction. I don't know if it's related, but the way he played after the Slavin' injury was kind of angry, panic, all over the place, a little bit undisciplined, and they needed him to kind of rein it in. But he did get better as the game wore on. What do you think, ultimately though, the difference in the series was?

It's easy to say it was Sergei Bobrovsky. Because he was obviously the best, I don't know if he was the best player in the series. He certainly was impenetrable at times. But what do you think the ultimate difference was between these two teams?

First of all, I do agree with you. I think Ajo did everything that you would ask of him in the entirety of the playoff with all the focus and the attention. But I did think that as he seemingly always channels his competitive energy in a maximizing, positive fashion, I thought for stretches of the game last night he got off of that. I thought Nate just had a tough playoff.

Those are just a couple individual stories, but I think Sebastian did everything that you would ask that he would do. But I do agree with you in stretches in the game last night with the adversity just within game four that the Hurricanes faced. I go back to the beginning of this series. Now I know that other than the players and the core group that was on the 2019 Eastern Conference Finalist Carolina Crew, most don't remember prior to that. But I mean, just like you were, I was here in 2009 in the sweep against Pittsburgh. The last time they won an Eastern Conference Final Game, and Rod Brind'Amour got the winner against Buffalo in game seven in 2006. So going into the series, thinking about all of that, and that it had been a long period of time since Carolina had won an Eastern Conference Final Game, and also factoring in whether it be the Boston Bruins winning the first two games last year, the Rangers winning the first two games last year, the Islanders winning the first two games on home ice this year, the Devils winning the first two games on home ice this year. I thought going in that the Hurricanes to beat a team that's of destiny right now in the Florida Panthers that they were going to have to get in front of the series. And so I really going in thought that they'd have to win for sure one of the first two at home, ideally do what they had done in those previous two home games in several series.

So that didn't happen. They gave themselves every chance to accomplish that with their play. And then the other thing that I hoped for, Florida had a significant break after beating Toronto one less day than Carolina. I hope Sergei Bobrovsky would come off of his groove because of the break between series and we know that that didn't happen. So the fact that not only did Bobrovsky remain in the groove, but elevated his groove and that the Hurricanes, even though they played a game that that could have resulted in going down to Florida up to nothing, it wasn't to nothing.

They were down to nothing. So I look back to the beginning of the series and whether it's right or wrong, the perspective that I have this string of not being able to get just to win in an Eastern Conference final game. Those are the reasons and Carolina's success in all of these games one and two in the last couple of years at home. That's why I pointed to the beginning of the series and I still do.

Tripp Tracy is joining us here on the Adam Gold Show. When I look at the series again, I thought Ajo had an outstanding playoffs. He didn't have an outstanding conference final. He was good, but he didn't. The best stretch of Sebastian Ajo was the first half of Game 3 where he was all over the place in a positive way. I thought Seth Jarvis played very well in the playoffs to all be it. He didn't score as much as he would like and he had the game on his stick in the first overtime.

First of four over times in Game 1 of this series. But Matthew could Chuck and Alexander Barkoff were the two best forwards going in. Probably if we ranked all the forwards, they were the two best forwards going in and they played like it. And I think Carolina could use another player or maybe I don't know about two, but another player like that to pair with Ajo.

Because right now other than Svechnikov, I'm not sure Carolina has that. No, I listen when I look at I mean, I Barkoff Alexander Barkoff and I have an incredibly close personal relationship. And I regret the fact that I told him after they beat the Boston Bruins in seven games.

They went right to Toronto and a conversation. I said, Barkie, there's more room for you to play just, you know, within the framework of the rules and nasty game. Right.

And be harder, harder. And I think he did to Chuck when I look at his series. You look at games one and two, I thought he was unbelievably well contained.

Unbelievably well contained in particular by Shae and Pesci. But he still ended both games in one in the fourth overtime and one early on the power play in the first overtime. And that's what great players do. There is a nastiness to his game. He's a real chirper, but he delivered the goods. And in games three and four, I thought, aside from continuing to produce.

I thought that that his game really became more consistently evident, aside from the production at the key moments. And, you know, yesterday it was announced that the three finalists for the Jim Gregory Award for general manager of the year and and Bill Zito was in there. And I mean, this is a team that was a big time disappointment for at least externally for the majority of the season. But when you think about why Bill got there, it's because of that deal he made. I mean, he hired Paul Maurice after Andrew Burnett in relief of Joel Kwenville. You know, they won the president's trophy and he goes to Paul Maurice and you can see why now. But the big deal in sending Jonathan Huberto and Mackenzie Wieger to Calgary and getting Matthew Kuchak. I have every belief that the Hurricanes were in that mix, too. So, you know, it seems like and I agree with your assessment when I look at Ajo's play spectacular against the Islanders and for proportions of the New Jersey series. Very good early against the Panthers on the power play goals in Game 1 A.G. And then his best game was Game 3. Didn't get first half of Game 3.

Didn't get rewarded. But the way it typically goes when you get deeper, I never wanted to point to it because I consistent with the next man up ideology. And this team inspired being able to not only win, but win with swagger without thirty sevens fetching up without max patch ready really for the whole season. But I mean, I think you'd be remiss to say that even with the fact that they could have won every game and would make an argument that they they were the better team for more stretches of the series against Florida. There is no question they miss Fechnikoff, no doubt about it.

And so when you start to look at it's still so fresh for me and the sting is there. Yeah. When you start to think about how they improve this team that was second best in the NHL, getting Fechnikoff back healthy. And, you know, that coveted player that can play a heavy game when the stakes ramp up that can also produce that is a very coveted, coveted player. There aren't a ton of them out there, but they certainly shine in moments like an Eastern Conference final. Yeah.

Before before I say goodbye, really just a yes or no. The team could also use their own version of Sam Bennett, who is somebody who can play, you know, maybe as a number two center, but plays with an orneriness, a nastiness because you use that term with Matthew Tkachuk. And, you know, Bennett was basically buried in Calgary and ended up has ended up being a huge part of this Florida team.

I hate what happened to Jacob Slavin. But, you know, I think you believe that the hit was clean. I there was helmet to helmet contact, but I think the intent was not, you know, to to deliver a hit to the head, which is unusual, I think, for Sam Bennett because he plays that way. But the hurricanes could use that element.

So, yeah, I know you want yes or no, but a couple of really quick things. I think nobody's ever been able to catch Jacob Slavin because of his elusive nature, like Nick Lidstrom. Everybody wants to. And I think Slavin was actually fighting his confidence a little bit as the series wore along and he got caught.

And I want to tell, you know, all the huge caniacs. It was terrific to see him on the plane coming home last night. That's most important. But yeah, I mean, that's a that is that is a hit, much like we just talked about. Fechnikoff, a clean hit that's Fechnikoff had on Hampus Lindholm in the Boston series last spring.

And you you can't put a price tag on it. It was clean, in my view. I mean, I went on Twitter. I did not like P.K. Subban celebrating a guy that means to the game what Slavin does. But the letter, in my view, at the time on a radio broadcast and is still today, it was it was a clean hit. And Sam Bennett, the last thing I would say when Carolina won Game 82 in Florida to win the division, he won. And Bennett was not in the lineup. He was not.

He's he's he's a wonderful player and he plays edgy. And that's that's OK. You can use that element trip. I will I will be in touch, sir. Best to your mom. Best to Frank. Safe travels up to Michigan. And I will talk to you soon. A.G., I love you and thank you for just a wonderful journey again with you this season.

We had we had a blast. We'll do it again. There are a number of free agents for Carolina that I think that they should have to will bring back. Jordan Stahl will play here next year. Short of somebody offering Jordan Stahl a bananas contract like four years, seven million a year. Jordan Stahl will play here next year. My guess is that he'll get a two year contract for about half the number that he made this year.

Something in the neighborhood of three years. I think yes, Perfas must be on this team. I don't I don't understand the fact that you can plug him anywhere. He is so unbelievably consistent and plays the way the head coach wants to play. Won't be a long contract. Won't be an expensive contract because he doesn't produce goals. But he is a valuable player. Yes, Perfas needs to be resigned.

Max Patch, you ready? I'm told the team wants to bring back as long as Max isn't expecting to get paid like a 30 goal scorer this year. Then you do bring him back. You run a little bit of a risk, but it's a one year deal.

So you do that. And the only other of the free agents unrestricted or restricted that I think you you should bring back. Honestly, I kind of dug Mackenzie McEachern the way he the way he played. And he's somebody you can bring in. And if he's a healthy extra, he's a healthy extra.

Or if he plays in your minor leagues and you can call him up, that's fine. Shane Goss to spare. He's going to make too much money.

Can't come back. I think both goalies are gone. I think both Freddie Anderson and Aunty Rotten will play elsewhere next year for I don't think they want to pay another goalie.

Their mind in their minds. Piotr Kaczetkow is at least half of a goalie tandem. I don't think they want to pay a number one goaltender. And although Freddie had four million or four and a half million wasn't necessarily number one goaltender money.

It was close. Ronta, maybe as a backup, as a as a as a one B. But I think both goalies are gone. Paul Stasny won't be back. I like Paul Stasny this year. Took him a while to get going, but I think Stasny will be gone. Yes, at Pulju-Yarvi, they will simply decline to offer him a qualifying offer. He'll be a free agent. Dylan Coughlin can't skate at the at this level.

Got a great shot, but he can't reach. Just not a good enough skater. Max Lajoie, I'd bring him back. But, you know, he's kind of a six, seven defenseman or maybe a minor leaguer who can come up and play a little bit. Calvin DeHaan is probably finished as a regular NHL player. So of the free agents, really three, you're bringing back.

McEachern is more of a swing guy. You're bringing back three. You're bringing back Stahl. You're bringing back Foster. You're bringing back Patchee Reddy if the numbers wash with what the Hurricanes feel like they can do. And I think you can bring back the whole the three of them for less than seven million a year. And if you could do that, close, close, maybe less than eight million a year.

If you could do that, you're in good shape. I think the Hurricanes will try to do that. But that's what I would do if I were them. Those are the guys you need to bring back. The other free agents. Thank you very much. There's always going to be turnover.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-25 17:22:23 / 2023-05-25 17:29:34 / 7

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