For Monday’s Daily Cup of Joe, I wrote a wish list for each of 21 Hurricanes players. That article detailed what the team needed to do to win the series based on individual player data.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe also looks at what it takes to win but comes at it more from a high level.
Here is what I think the Canes need to do differently to win game 7.
1) Establish the forecheck and prevent the opposition from doing the same
From the beginning, I said that the series outcome would be determined by which team could more effectively move the puck and also keep the opponent from doing the same. That has held true. When the Hurricanes forecheck is effective, the rest of the team’s game has flowed from that starting point. There is less pressure on the blue line to defend, and the forecheck also generates scoring chances. The result is a game with significantly more chances for the Hurricanes.
2) Be better at sorting out the Capitals rush
A major Achilles’ heel in the Hurricanes three losses in Washington, D.C. has been the team’s struggles sorting things out defensively off the rush. As I detailed in the game 5 recap, the Capitals’ general approach on the rush has been to split the first two forwards into the zone wide. With the puck on the wing and the middle open, the Capitals have regularly slashed a player into the wide open middle lane for scoring chances and goals.
(1) and (2) actually work as a combination. When the Hurricanes are unable to get the forecheck going, the result is more chances for the Capitals to gain speed through the neutral zone and attack off the rush. Then if the Hurricanes defensemen are unable to sort things out, the result is a bunch of chances for the Capitals to just gradually pick them apart.
3) Punch and counter punch
The key for the Hurricanes to give themselves the best chance possible is simply to just keep pushing regardless of early results. The Hurricanes did that in Monday’s win and need to be able to muster the same on the road on Wednesday.
4) Play 5-on-5 hockey
Despite the big power play goal on Monday, the Hurricanes are still better off playing 5-on-5 hockey. So the Hurricanes must avoid taking unnecessary penalties or being goaded into extracurricular activities that could result in a penalty.
No doubt, we will do a deeper dive on game 7 before the puck drops on Wednesday night. but I really think that the game and series still just come down to which team can best move the puck.
What say you Canes fans?
1) If you had to name only one or two (or maybe three) things that will determine the outcome of Wednesday’s series finale, what would they be?
2) Of the four keys that I mention above, which two of those would you prioritize?
3) Who has other thoughts on game 7?