Down 3-0 and battling a good hockey team and a goalie who is playing out of his mind, the Carolina Hurricanes obviously face long odds to win the series and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. Though it might not feel like it to Canes fans, there is a difference between “long odds” and “zero chance.”
Interestingly, the 2014 Los Angeles Kings were the fourth team to come back from a 3-0 deficit. That team went on to win the Stanley Cup. A key player on that team was none other than Justin Williams.
As I said on Twitter shortly after Tuesday’s loss:
— Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) May 15, 2019
What would it take?
I think the biggest obstacle to winning a series after falling behind 3-0 is very simply mustering the belief across the entire roster that it will happen. Having lived it, the Hurricanes no doubt have a feeling for the trajectory of this series and the long odds. At the point where even a portion of the roster settles for what has already been accomplished with this season, the season officially ends. Brind’Amour, Williams, Staal, Faulk and whoever else is feeling positive energy has less than 48 hours to get every player to truly believe that a rebound and series win is possible.
2) Focusing on the next game
The challenge of winning four straight games is daunting and intimidating. More significantly, it creates the wrong focus. The objective right now is not so much to win four games but rather to win a single game four times. Winning only on Thursday on home ice is not that crazy of an ask. The Hurricanes have done it in five out of six playoff games and were not that far off in Tuesday’s loss. That, initially, is the task at hand.
3) Breaking Rask and a the Bruins in a way that raises doubts
If you consider any single game to be a 50/50 battle with no carry over from what happened before, the Hurricanes would have about a 6 percent chance or winning the series. So trying to grind out four straight hard-fought, even games is a difficult challenge. I think the key to pulling off a minor miracle is somehow winning in a way that has a significant carry over. The idea is to shake the Bruins confidence. On target before the series started, I said that the Hurricanes would need to break Tuukka Rask to win the series. After three more strong outings, the odds of doing that seem bleak. But I really think that is still the path to a series win. If somehow, some way the Hurricanes could shell Rask in game 4, I think that could be what shakes up Rask to bring him back to Earth and gets the Bruins questioning themselves just a bit.
4) Finding a singular focus on winning and tying the special teams battle because of it
Tuesday’s game was yet another high volume night for special teams. Each team had five power play chances with the result being a goal or the Bruins and nothing for the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes to a man need to stay invested in winning in game 4 and avoid another round of trading punches and penalties. Those exchanges and the special teams time that comes from them have been a significant part of the Bruins offense.
4) A hero or two
Rebounding will require strong efforts across the entire roster, but I think more significantly, the Hurricanes need a player or two to rise up, put the team on his back and carry it to a win or two.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Do you still believe a rebound is possible?
2) Only for winning game 4, what do you see as the key factors?