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4 Things We Learned from the Hurricanes’ Series Win Over the Islanders | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors

Written by on May 1, 2024

K’Andre Miller and Jordan MartinookJosh Lavallee/NHLI via Getty Images

We’ll all agree that the Presidents’ Trophy-winning New York Rangers are a completely different challenge than the overtime-loss point-merchant New York Islanders. As dominant as the Canes had been throughout their Gentlemen’s Sweep of the latter, the Rangers can and will expose even the tiniest nagging issues the Canes have been dealing with.

But let’s dive into the Canes’ biggest red flags thus far as they prepare to face the winningest regular-season team coming off a sweep.

Success in the two-way game, and on the faceoff dot, has been a hallmark of a Brind’Amour-coached team forever. But the Canes struggled with this throughout the first round, and it directly led to a few Islanders goals.

The Canes won just 17 of 41 faceoffs in Game 3, and just 19 of 62 (30.6 percent!) in Game 4’s double-overtime loss. This is all good and fine when you know you can outskill an opponent. It’s not all good and fine when former Hurricane and lifetime menace Vincent Trocheck is on the other end of the ice. The former Cane has a ridiculous 71.6 faceoff-win percentage after Round 1.

How do you explain this? A lot of Canes players, especially Jesperi Kotkaniemi, have been getting kicked off the faceoff dot. This happens at the beginning of the playoffs every year to the league’s best faceoff teams and much of Patrice Bergeron’s 2018 chagrin. But, as Brind’Amour once told me: “Excuses are for losers.”

Tarrytown, NY native Brett Pesce chose No. 22 because his dad chose No. 22. His dad, Brian, chose No. 22 because of Rangers legend Brad Park, whom he named Brett’s brother after. The Pesce family charm has taken over in Raleigh since Brett made the NHL and has grown into one of the most consistent, steady, minutes-eating defensemen in the league. Brian famously got flack from the Madison Square Garden faithful a few seasons ago for Storm Surging too hard, pledging his loyalty to the Caniacs.

There’s nothing this player wants more than to play another playoff series at the Garden, and there’s nothing his family wants more than to watch their son attempt to beat the Rangers. Will it happen?

Pesce suffered a “significant” non-contact lower-body injury during Game 2 of the first round and missed the rest of the series. You felt his veteran, calming impact missing most during the defensive lapse that led to Barzal’s double-overtime winner. There’s no update quite yet, but if he’s out, the Canes might need to restrict the bottom-pairing’s minutes and put some stress on their first pairing.

Former Ranger Jesper Fast has been a fan favorite no matter where he’s gone. Fast plays hard, plays well, and always seems to have some random, consequential goal per series on top of his trustworthiness. He’s been ruled out for the rest of the season with a neck strain, and he’s not coming back.

If I’m a Hurricanes fan, I don’t love living in a world where Tony DeAngelo is in the lineup and Matt Rempe exists. If I’m a Rangers fan, this might be my Super Bowl.

This has all the workings of the “worst, most distracting, most useless discourse you’ve ever heard.”

Say what you want about Rempe, the Rangers have an 18-2-1 record with the 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward. He obviously is a physical player and heads will need to be on a swivel when he’s on the ice.

Rempe doesn’t play many minutes, but he stands out with the time-on-ice given. It’ll be up to the Canes to make sure he’s a non-factor.

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