The normal game preview will cover the on-ice watch points for Wednesday’s game 7 between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Washington Capitals.
With the pressure for a winner takes all game 7, today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks at some mental angles for the game.
The series so far
Having won three consecutive games at home, the Capitals should rightfully feel confident that they can win a fourth game to claim victory for the series. By the same token, the Hurricanes do have an obstacle to clear to prevail in the series. The Hurricanes were close after slow starts in games 1 and 2, so it is not like they have not been competitive at all, but even still there is an element of DC momentum on the Capitals side.
The Capitals’ history
The Capitals are the reigning Stanley Cup champions and did successfully battle through the ups and downs of the NHL postseason. So based on last season alone, the Capitals could be labeled as a veteran group that knows the ropes. But past that single season was largely about conquering the demons that had haunted the Capitals for the better part of a decade that featured strong regular season play followed by disappointing post-season failures. Facing a game 7 in a series that the experts expected to be much shorter, might the Hurricanes have stirred up the demons from years past and the self-doubt that comes with them?
Cliches along the lines of ‘never being satisfied’, ‘having bigger goals,’ etc. are commonplace this time of year. There can sometimes be an element of marketing and convincing in these statements, and as a team that had missed the playoffs for a decade, there is definitely a case for “just happy to be here” for the Hurricanes. But then there is the Brind’Amour effect. He is of the mind that the goal is to win the Stanley Cup and that everything else is just a stepping stone to get there. That mentality can be contagious and no doubt will see the Hurricanes take the ice on Wednesday expecting to win.
Justin Williams’ aura
To be clear, Justin Williams has an impressive and legitimate resume producing points and wins in game 7s. But there is an also an element of the legend eclipsing the reality and turning him into a mythical hero. If Justin Williams scores early in game 7, does it feel like an omen that he is destined to win and continue building his legend?
Game 6 ended with Alexander Ovechkin losing his cool and a Canes rookie just sort of gawking at him. Does that event fire up the Capitals for a rebound in game 7? Or does it show that the Hurricanes have gotten under his skin to the point where he cannot maintain his cool?
Relative to the Capitals, the Hurricanes are so young and inexperienced in terms of games like this. The question is whether the Capitals gain an advantage from their experience or if perhaps the Hurricanes just not knowing what they are getting into could keep them loose and be an advantage.
The first goal
Out of all of the things that could impact a game 7 from a mental standpoint, I think the single biggest factor could be scoring first. A first goal puts a bit of pressure on the trailing team while at the same time allowing the leading team to let the game come to them.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Do you think any of these mental angles could impact the outcome of Wednesday’s game? Or do you think the game is more simply two teams trying to make enough good plays to win?
2) If you had to pick only one mental angle from the list above that couple impact Wednesday’s game, which would it be?