Through 5 games of the series between the Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins, the home team is a perfect 5 out of 5. In addition, though a couple of those games have been closer than the final scores would indicate, none of those games were decided by less than two goals. That would suggest tough sledding for the Canes in game 6 in Boston on Thursday night but also a good chance to win game 7 at home on Saturday.
But what would it take for the Hurricanes to buck the trend, win in Boston on Thursday and take the series in six games?
I think it is a combination of three things:
1) Aho’s line needs to have a strong game
Aho’s line has been reasonably productive at home, but in the two games in Boston, they were held completely off the score sheet. When coupled with a decent amount of head to head play against Bergeron’s line and their massive scoring outburst, the deficit there was nearly impossible to overcome.
Svechnikov has been engaged physically. He has matured greatly in terms of taking bad penalties out of frustration or trying to do too much when the scoring is not there. But if he has a scoring outburst in him, that could be the difference in game 6. But more broadly, Aho’s line needs to at least hold its own in Boston.
2) A cleaner game
Maybe even more significant than match ups, the Hurricanes were sloppy in the two games in Boston measured largely in penalties take but also in terms of coverage errors/attention to detail. To win in Boston will require the Hurricanes to be solid from top to bottom such that unfavorable road match ups do not translate one for one to scoring chances and goals against.
3) A good start and/or break or two early
With Boston facing elimination, a goal or two early for the Canes could greatly change how the game plays out. With a lead, the Canes can be a bit more conservative and look for offense opportunistically. A Canes lead also puts pressure on the Bruins which could pair well with the Canes looking for opportunistic offense.
4) A hero rising up
In big games like this, a hero rising up can also be the difference. Almost anyone in the lineup can be an option, but Antti Raanta is arguably the best candidate. He was very sharp in Tuesday’s win tracking pucks well and having incredibly good rebound control.
Even if the Canes lose on Thursday, and even if it is not pretty, I like the Canes chances to win a game 7 on Saturday. In that regard, I think the Canes get a free chance with house money on Thursday. Here is hoping the good guys find a way to take the shorter path with a game 6 win.
The puck drops on Bally Sports just after 7pm with Mike, Abby and Shane.