Jaccob Slavin's art of defending, and why he's so good on the penalty kill
There's so much to like about the way the Carolina Hurricanes play hockey. Especially the frenetic pace they regularly operate that's become a bit of a trademark. They really never stop pursuing the puck, which allows them to embrace the chaos of a hockey game. Even if they try something and lose possession of it, they're confident that they'll just be able to go and get it back in short order.
One of the few trade-offs of that aggressive playing style is that they wind up being whistled for a heavy volume of penalties. The question of how much of that is warranted is up for debate, because there are many logical explanations for why they get penalized so frequently that I'm willing to buy into it beyond just "committing tonnes of infractions". It doesn't help the NHL's case that a lot of the time their officiating agenda seems to be more interested in just evening out the playing field, as much as actually instilling justice.
Whatever the case though, the Hurricanes spend a good chunk of every game playing shorthanded. They've already spent a league-high 413:27 minutes down a man this season, and the Nashville Predators are the only team that's been shorthanded on more occasions (beating them out by just one). That's hardly ideal, particularly in the postseason when the margin shrinks even further.
We saw that last year, when the Lightning buzzsaw ripped through them on special teams, scoring seven key power play goals in just 22:36 of 5-on-4 action. Three of those seven goals came in a pivotal game four, which the Lightning won to go up 3-1 in the series en route to their eventual victory in Game 5. It may sound cliche, but something like that can ultimately make the difference between advancing and getting eliminated.
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