The Carolina Hurricanes will take on the Boston Bruins tonight and attempt to close out this Eastern Conference semifinal series. The Canes know that the hardest win is the fourth win and they say that are not taking anything for granted.
Eric Staal recognized that the mantra in the other locker room is "do or die", but he feels the Canes need to have the same mentality.
"We need to keep playing our game, play a full 60 minutes, and match their intensity," said Staal.
In the meantime, there seems to be some confusion over on the Bruins side. Head Coach Claude Julien was quoted this morning as saying that the Hurricanes "trap game" is frustrating to play against, but his players have said that the forecheck is what has been most effective for Carolina.
"It's just not easy because they've got three guys waiting for us between the red and the blue line, and they've got a D in back, in deep, that just retrieves the puck when whenever we chip it in,"
On the other side, Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice says that his team doesn't use the trap.
"We actually don't trap," he said. "There are worse things than the trap, by the way. There are more defensive schemes than the trap. "We don't and he knows it."
So, do the Canes trap or not? Perhaps Julien feels like the Canes have six skaters on the ice at times, two forechecking, and four lying back in wait?
Mark Stuart said that the Carolina forecheck has been key. This is from Chip Alexander and Canes Now:
A lot of those lost battles, Stuart said, have come when the Canes forechecked with speed and authority. That, he said, has to change for the Bruins to be able to crank up their transition game, score some goals and win.
"We need to, first of all, get on pucks quicker and win battles," Stuart said. "They've been beating us to pucks and winning some battles.
Apparently, the Hurricanes are beating the Bruins to loose pucks at the same time they are sitting back in the neutral zone waiting to trap? No wonder Boston is having trouble in this series.
The Hurricanes should be starting the same lineup as they did in game four. Maurice was very happy with the way that Tim Conboy played and he will probably fill in again for the ailing Ryan Bayda, who did not make the trip and is recovering in Raleigh.
The lines will probably start out the same as well:
- Staal, Cole, Whitney
- Cullen, LaRose, Walker
- Jokinen, Ruutu, Samsonov
- Brind'Amour, Conboy, Eaves
- Pitkanen, Seidenberg
- Corvo, Gleason
- Wallin, Babchuk
Of course the coaching staff will mix and match as they see fit. Brind'Amour will see his minutes increase as he plays on the penalty kill and powerplay.
Cam Ward will face off again against Vezina favorite Tim Thomas.
- Ward- wins 7, GAA 1.98, SV% .936
- Thomas- wins 5, GAA 2.00, SV% .932
The Hurricanes are led by Eric Staal who has 9 goals and 3 assists. Boston is led by Michael Ryder with 5 goals and 5 assists.
The referees tonight will be Brad Watson and Tim Peel, neither of whom have a great track record regarding the Hurricanes. Watson is the ref who manufactured a couple of diving calls against Carolina down in Florida after all the whining down there. Peel actually felt the need to apologize to the Hurricanes coaching staff after blowing a call against the Canes during the 2006 season. Hopefully, they both have a decent game tonight.
Several questions abound-
Will the Canes be able to wrap up the series and move on to the Eastern Conference Finals for the third time in seven years?
Will Jussi Jokinen net another game winner?
Will Eric Staal continue his hot streak?
Will Cam Ward continue to be the best goalie in the postseason?
Or will the Bruins finally get their high powered offense into gear?
We will find out tonight as the game will be televised by the Versus Network, (HD available) with coverage starting at 7 PM and the puck drop scheduled for 7:30. John Forslund and Andy Brickley will have the honors, just like for game two.