Breaking Down the Final Shift of Game 4 – ‘Canes @ Panthers

Posted on May 25, 2023

After watching the final shift of Game 4 between the Panthers and ‘Canes, I felt that this could be an educational moment for players reading this article. Lets run it back.

The epilogue to this shift – the ‘Canes took a penalty with just under 1 minute left to play in regulation time. Personally, I thought this was a very, very soft call given the context/situation. About 3 minutes before that, a Hurricanes player literally Pedigree’d a Panthers player (WWE fans know what this move looks like) and no call was made. With around 2 minutes left, Anthony Duclair committed what would have been a penalty in the regular season but was let go. I get it – let the players decide the final outcome. To call an inadvertent trip with under a minute left to play – very, very fringe.

Here’s the shift leading up the Matthew Tkachuk’s GWG; his third of the Eastern Conference Finals. What a trade this turned out to be for the Florida ‘Cats… and “the Rat King” is born!

*** Note *** I can’t find the full-length shift but this is pretty close. I cannot upload the full shift onto this web site due to size restrictions***

*** Face-off Won by Barkov. Keep in mind that Barkov was a game-time decision for Florida in this game, AND the man who took the penalty that led to this PP – Jordan Staal – is Carolina’s best face-off man (Staal was 58% on draws in this game alone, per InStat). Staal would have taken this draw if he was not in the penalty box.

*** Good face-off Support by Reinhart. This is textbook face-off support by the RW. Reinhart is ready, reacts quickly and gets the puck up top right away.

*** Barkov with a smart weak side bump to relieve pressure. You have to use the weak side well to beat Carolina’s PK because they pressure the strong side very well. It is the foundation of how they penalty kill in the D Zone. About 10 seconds later, the Panthers run a similar weak side bump after a shot goes wide.

*** Won battles along the wall. Barkov/Tkachuk win the small space game and get the puck up top to Montour

*** Bennett fumbles the puck off the dasher. This leads to a clear by the Hurricanes. This is why it’s so important to skills coaches to practice situations where puck retrievals/picking pucks off the dasher coming from different angles is so important.

*** The ‘Canes clear but can’t get it all the way down the ice. This is a key event because the ‘Canes players can’t change. If this puck gets down, I would imagine that a change happens here.

*** Favourable bounce for the Panthers off a missed shot by Reinhart. Reinhart misses short side high, but it hits the glass and takes a home-team bounce onto the stick of Barkov with 8 seconds left. If this puck ends up deep in the corner or over on the wall, this goal might never have happened.I really liked the puck decision by Reinhart though – he’s using the D as a screen, and with dangerous weapons in front, Andersen has to think that a shot-tip off the Panthers man in the crease is coming. The short side was somewhat there – Reinhart just missed the spot.

*** Lets go back to the clear that didn’t get all the way down the ice. There are 4 tired ‘Canes on the ice, and they can’t pressure Barkov because they’re winded. Barkov has lots of time to settle this puck down and wait for the “Rat King” to go around the net and to the strong side goal line. That is uncharacteristic of the ‘Canes PK pressure.

*** Lets go back to the Bennett hit on Slavin. Slavin is likely on the ice in this situation, but was knocked out of the game by a monster hit delivered by Bennett earlier in the contest. Remember we always talk about finishing hits pays dividends? Well – here you have it.

*** the 2 ‘Canes forwards are tired, and physical fatigue leads to mental fatigue. 48 White cannot move his feet back to Tkachuk, who walks out front using nice mohawk techniques but should never be allowed to walk out there with such little time left. I also felt that 48 White was too high given the situation, but I think that’s a structural/systematic thing that Carolina do in PK situations to force the puck low.

*** Tkachuk’s Patience. Most guys shoot this as soon as they get it, but Tkachuk is playing with some kind of otherworldly confidence right now.

*** Aho (20 White) covers no one. If Staal isn’t in the penalty box, he’s likely on the ice and one of these forwards aren’t. Not only was the penalty tough for Carolina to take, but the person taking the penalty was even more crippling. Aho HAS TO TAKE THE RAT KING HERE. Just get stick on puck as he’s about to shoot (he’s close enough). Maybe Aho is thinking about the back door pass to Reinhart (which is an option for Tkachuk, but if Michael Jordan is driving the lane with the game on the line, he ain’t kicking it out to Bill Wennington).

The Rat King - Flashbacks to my childhood