Happy Mother’s to all of the moms in our Canes hockey community. We hope you have a great day with a Hurricanes win right in the middle of it.
After a five-day layoff, the Hurricanes took some time to get going in game 1 against the Bruins, but a stellar first 15 minutes of the second period had the Canes on track and with a 2-1 lead entering the third. Then a quick series of events heavy on penalties and officiating reversed things quickly and sent the Hurricanes on their way to a 5-2 loss. For those who did not see the game, it was more or less a one-goal game with Boston scoring any empty-netter and then adding another late. Regardless, the Hurricanes enter game 2 needing a win to get the desired split on the road.
The Hurricanes are 5-0 at home in the playoffs so far and showed in the Washington series that they were a resilient bunch capable of winning a long series and even a game 7 on the road. So Sunday is not a must-win in the pure sense of the term. But I do think game 2 is critical. Having to win four out of five against a good team is challenging, and the Hurricanes would definitely have significant pressure on them for game 3. Put another way, the path to a series win is MUCH easier if the Hurricanes can rebound and take game 2 of the series on Sunday.
The Daily Cup of Joe for Friday asked whether the Hurricanes should make adjustments or stay the course? For the most part, I think it is just a matter of staying the course but mustering a somewhat better game on Sunday. The biggest thing is doing a better job of neutralizing Boston’s big guns largely by avoiding penalties.
My watch points for Sunday’s game follow.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Boston Bruins
1) Avoiding a special teams battle
The difference in game 1 was the officials rising up to take a sizable role in the outcome and the Bruins capitalizing on the opportunity presented to them with a big 1-2 punch early in the third period. On Sunday, I will be watching to see if the officials can get back to calling consistent vanilla hockey that does not put them front and center for deciding the game’s outcome. I will also be watching to see if the Hurricanes can avoid unnecessary penalties. Finally, I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes can do a better job on the penalty kill if forced to do so.
2) Finding a full 60 minutes
After a couple complete end to end efforts to close out the Capitals series, the Hurricanes have been unable to post a full 60-minute effort. Neither of the two road games against the Islanders were great efforts. Decent defense, good goaltending and a bit of opportunistic scoring converted both of those games to wins, but I would not say that either were among the team’s best post-season efforts. Game 3 at home was maybe a bit bitter but still not peak Canes hockey, and game 4 featured a massive surge in the second period but still really not an end to end effort. Long story short, the Hurricanes have gone five straight games without posting a complete 60-minute effort. Some of that was overshadowed by wins, but to beat the Bruins the Hurricanes will at some point need to re-find the higher gear.
3) Seeking a hero
When the Hurricanes really needed a win in the Capitals series, it was Warren Foegele who rose up to have a huge game and lead the way to a win. The Hurricanes could use a hero or two to rise up and match Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. The Teravainen/Aho/Svechnikov line definitely has potential. Might it be time for Justin Williams to step up with a clutch performance that drives a win? Can Petr Mrazek steal a game? Could the blue line be due for a big day offensively? On Sunday, I will be watching to see if a hero or two steps forward to lead the way to victory.
Petr Mrazek was not the cause of Thursday’s loss, but at the same time he has been better recently. After a long layoff and a decent but not great start in his return, might he be ready to find a higher gear in game 2? On the Boston side, Tuukka Rask was the only thing that kept the Bruins in the game heading into the end of the third period. In so doing, Rask extended his run of strong play. On Sunday, I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes can get to Rask.
The puck drops at 3pm perfectly spaced between lunch or brunch for Mom on Mother’s Day and dinner for Mom on Mother’s day.