Category 5: Hurricanes home again

Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour weighed in on Phil Kessel becoming the NHL’s new Ironman

Vegas forward Phil Kessel set the NHL’s Ironman record on Monday against the Maple Leafs. (Steve Marcus / AP Photo)

The Hurricanes are back in Raleigh after spending nearly two weeks on the road in the western part of North America, returning with a 4-1-1 record heading into Friday’s home game against the Islanders.

1. The Islanders picked up an emotional win Wednesday, beating the hated Rangers 3-0 behind 41 saves by goalie Ilya Sorokin.

Also helping the Isles win on home ice against their rivals? A penalty kill that is perfect on the season. New York killed all three Rangers power plays to improve to 25 for 25 on the kill, one of two teams (St. Louis, 11 for 11) that still hasn’t allowed a goal while shorthanded.

It’s not like the Isles haven’t been tested. According to, New York has allowed 53 scoring chances (tied for fifth most in the NHL) and 22 high-danger chances (tied for the second most). It wasn’t a surprise that Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour mentioned the Islanders’ goaltending when asked what has made New York so good at killing penalties to start the season.

“They’re all in sync, you can tell,” the Hurricanes coach said Thursday. “They do a nice job. They’re denying a lot of entries, which is key, and their goalie’s made some nice saves too, and that’s got to be your best penalty killer.

“I think killing is a lot of structure and it’s a lot of everyone doing their job, but it always comes down to big saves too.”

2. The Islanders’ power play, meanwhile, has converted on just 12.5% of its attempts, ranking 25th in the early going this season.

Two of New York’s three goals have been scored by captain Anders Lee, who has four goals and three assists through seven games. He has five power play goals in 26 career regular season games against Carolina, tied for the most he has against any team. New York is 3-1-0 when Lee scores a power play goal against the Hurricanes, his only loss coming when he scored two on March 18, 2018.

Overall, the Islanders have lost six of their last seven against Carolina (1-4-2) and have scored just 15 times in those games while allowing 25, and the Hurricanes have outscored them 5-3 on the power play in that stretch.

3. Brind’Amour said Wednesday that Ondrej Kase is in the NHL concussion protocol. Given his long history of head injuries, I’d imagine the Hurricanes will proceed with caution.

Calvin de Haan has also missed the last two practices, and Brind’Amour said Thursday the defenseman is day-to-day but is “right there” as far as being close to returning.

Brind’Amour admitted it was a difficult situation for Ethan Bear, who has been a healthy scratch for 20 straight games dating back to last year’s playoffs and is clearly No. 8 of eight defensemen on the roster. He’s also been the subject of trade rumors, though Carolina can afford to be patient.

“You just never know how things work out,” Brind’Amour said Thursday. “We get another (guy) nicked up or something happens, and next thing you know, he’s right in there. So it’s tough on him. I understand that, but it’s just how it is.”

4. Speaking “it’s just how it is,” Carolina has now had two goals disallowed this season. The first, in the third period of a tie game the Hurricanes ended up losing in overtime, was called back after Sebastian Aho was ruled offside well before Derek Stepan scored.

NHL Situation Room ruling
Challenge Initiated By:
Type of Challenge: Off-Side
Result: Call on the ice is overturned – No Goal Carolina
Video review determined that Carolina’s Sebastian Aho preceded the puck into the offensive zone and was in an off-side position prior to Derek Stepan’s goal. According to Rule 38.9, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a “GOAL” call on the ice is that the NHL Situation Room, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the On-Ice Official(s), determines that one or more Players on the attacking team preceded the puck into the attacking zone prior to the goal being scored and that, as a result, the play should have been stopped for an “Off-Side” infraction; where this standard is met, the goal will be disallowed.”
The clock is reset to show 31.1 seconds (19:28 elapsed time), when the off-side infraction occurred.

Stepan was involved again in the second non-goal when Paul Stastny’s was immediately waved off in the first period of Carolina’s win in Vancouver. Brind’Amour challenged but lost, and the Canucks tied the game on the ensuing power play.

NHL Situation Room ruling
Challenge Initiated By: Carolina
Type of Challenge: Goaltender Interference
Result: Call on the ice is upheld – No goal Carolina
Video review confirmed Carolina’s Paul Stastny had a significant presence in the crease which impaired Thatcher Demko’s ability to play his position. The decision was made in accordance with Rule 69.1 which states, in part, “Goals should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal.”

What did Brind’Amour learn from that disallowed goal?

“That was my mistake,” he admitted. “It was called no goal on the ice. Had it been called a goal, it would be different, I think. I don’t think they would have changed it, you know what I mean?”

5. Back in 2017 I asked Brind’Amour about what it’s like to be one of the NHL’s Ironmen, a player who doesn’t ever miss games, when a member of the club, Andrew Cogliano, was coming to town.

Both Brind’Amour (who was hurt blocking a shot in a preseason game and missed the start of the season 1999-2000) and Cogliano (who was suspended for one game) had their streaks end in heartbreaking ways.

Vegas forward Phil Kessel became the all-time Ironman on Monday when he played in his 989th consecutive game, a feat that’s particularly impressive when one remembers that in 2006, just after turning 19, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

Kessel passed Keith Yandle, who broke Doug Jarvis’ longstanding record in January before retiring following last season.

“It’s a huge accomplishment,” Brind’Amour said of Kessel setting the record. “You need to have a lot of luck, you need to have a lot of things go your way to be able to do that. But you got to answer the bell. And you can say what you want the player, but you got to give him credit that he comes to play.”

I’m unsure if he was hinting at Kessel’s reputation as a player who is not particularly interested in the type of rigorous workout regiment like Brind’Amour had in his playing days (and now, truthfully). Toronto columnist Steve Simmons was sure to rake Kessel over the coals following his exit from the Maple Leafs, even claiming the winger’s affinity for hot dogs led him to “wander from his neighbourhood condominium to consume his daily snack” from a local roadside vendor.

Kessel had a laugh at Simmons’ expense after earning the first of two Stanley Cup rings with the Penguins.

He also got the last laugh Monday by solidifying himself as the most durable player in NHL history.

“He’s always been a great player.” Brind’Amour said. “We all know the skill level. I don’t know the guy so I can’t really comment much, but I just know the accomplishment is what it is. That stands on its own.”