Carolina In My Mind

I’m told James Taylor is a huge hockey fan.  At least that’s what his brother Livingston allowed when I interviewed him when he played my hockey-obsessed college, specifically asking me to introduce him to the top players and the coach and seeming to be quite grateful when they gave him an autographed logo puck.  More than I ever got from them, and I gave them a hugely disproportionate amount of positive ink.

So I imagine JT was among the many who was watching the ESPN family of networks last night, and I imagine he was as shocked as anyone by the events that unfolded late in the game in Raleigh which USA TODAY’s Mike Brehm recounted:

The New York Islanders were leading 3-0 Monday night against the Carolina Hurricanes and had never blown that big a lead in their long, successful playoff history.

Instead they’re heading home down 2-0 in the first-round Eastern Conference series after an epic collapse that included the Hurricanes scoring the tying goal and go-ahead goal nine seconds apart late in the third period for a 5-3 win.  Carolina outshot the Islanders 17-1 in the third period and scored four third-period goals.

As Alex Butler detailed for UPI:

Sebastian Aho and Jordan Martinook each beat goalie Semyon Varlamov for third-period scores within a nine-second span(.) 

The momentum of us tying the game and the energy it sent, I don’t really know how to describe it,” Martinook told reporters. “You get juice that hits you.”

Seth Jarvis registered a goal and two assists. Fellow Hurricanes forward Jake Guentzel and Aho each logged one goal and one assist in the comeback win. Forward Teuvo Teravainen also scored for the Hurricanes.

“It was just wave after wave,” Martinook said. “We were coming at them. We didn’t give them anything, which was key. If you push that hard, you are going to hopefully get a couple, and we did.”

Cane Nation was understandably ecstatic.  But if you have a soft spot for the ‘Ders as I do, you couldn’t help but be more than a little melancholy with what happened so quickly and so suddenly.

And JT’s sweet, syrupy, wistful lyrics became more and more appropriate for a soundtrack as the comeback and eventual win unfolded:

In my mind, I’m gone to Carolina
Can’t you see the sunshine?
Can’t you just feel the moonshine?
Ain’t it just like a friend of mine to hit me from behind
When I’m gone to Carolina in my mind?

And there was a lot of that kind of hitting that went on once the comeback was complete, per Brehm again:

After trade deadline acquisition Jake Guentzel scored the empty-netter to seal the win, (Kyle) Palmieri went after Guentzel and those two and Brock Nelson were kicked out of the game. Six more players would be ejected before the game ended.

For the Islanders, who surged once the legendary Patrick Roy took over late in the season as coach to secure this wild card playoff berth, it was a tune that was likely lingering even more hauntingly in their ears as it was in mine.  Roy tried to maintain a positive attitude, per Brehm:

“It’s a tough loss, no doubt about it because we had our chance to win that game,” Roy said. “But at the same time, we got to regroup and be ready for the next game (Thursday).”

At least they’ll be back at the UBS Arena on the Queens-Nassau border for that game.  Maybe he’ll at least be able to fast forward to the end of JT’s classic:

When I’m gone to Carolina in my mind
Well, I’m already gone, I’m gone
Say nice things about me ’cause I’m gone, South, I’m gone
You got to carry on without me, I’m gone, I’m gone
I’m gone to Carolina in my mind, yeah
Yes, I’m gone to Carolina in my mind

I hope he’s got a deeper playlist than I do.  Or the ability to turn it off easier than I can.

Courage…

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