When it was all said and done, the Hurricanes emerged from game one with a lopsided 5-1 win. But that score was not indicative of what transpired. Boston was the better team out of the gate and carried play through the first period. The game was a scoreless tie past the midway point of the game before the Hurricanes broke the ice with consecutive goals. Arguably the biggest difference in the game was that the Hurricanes were rewarded with a couple second period goals when able to get bodies to the front of the net and then get shots through. Had Boston instead been rewarded with a couple goals in the first period, the outcome might have been different.
So while the score was lopsided, I do not think the Bruins are in a position yet where they need to make drastic changes.
My watch points for game 2 adjustments follow:
1) Canes ability to advance puck from own end
As I discussed in some detail in my recap for game 1, the Hurricanes struggled early in the game to advance the puck from their own end against the Bruins, especially early in the game. Often the Bruins sat four players back in the neutral zone with one aggressively hounding the puck trying to force a pass into the crowded neutral zone. The result was 20 giveaways for the Hurricanes for the game and an often disjointed offense trying to advance the puck up the ice. The Hurricanes were a bit better as the game wore on, but on Wednesday I will be watching to see if the Canes adjust by having forwards more often available to receive shorter passes in the vicinity of the defensive blue line and before the crowded neutral zone.
2) Linus Ullmark
I would not pin the first game solely on Ullmark, but he did allow four goals on only 24 shots, was outplayed by Antti Raanta and gave up a couple stoppable goals. A deflection like Jarvis’ goal that finds its way around a goalie is just a tough break, but Jarvis’ goal went right through Ullmark’s legs when he was a tad slow closing up holes. And then Trocheck’s goal that banked off Ullmark from behind the end line was just a bad one. I would expect Ullmark will start game 2 with Swayman on deck if the Bruins return home with two losses, but with the two splitting duty evenly during the regular season, there is a chance that Cassidy makes a quicker change. If so, how quickly Swayman acclimates to playoff hockey could play a role in how game 2 unfolds.
3) Match up hockey
Brind’Amour is generally less fixated on match ups than some coaches, but he did make a concerted effort to match Jordan Staal’s line against Bergeron and Marchand with Pesce and Skjei when possible too. I would not say that they completely shut down the Bruins top pair, but they did keep them off the score sheet. Pastrnak played on a second line with Haula and Hall, but if Cassidy wants to try to find a spark he could go the route of reuniting Pastrnak with Bergeron and Marchand. They would still have to play most of the shifts against Staal’s line with Brind’Amour having the last change in Raleigh, but maybe Cassidy tries loading up.
4) Seeking more from the top line
Aho and Svechnikov were on the ice for Jarvis’ goal and also combined for the empty-net goal to finish things off but in general had a quiet night offensively. With Trocheck’s line scoring twice and Staal’s line also on the board, getting the Canes top duo going would make for a really deep forward group scoring-wise.
The puck drops at 7:07pm at PNC Arena!