In a stinker only rivaled by the 6-0 whitewashing at the hands of the Washington Capitals in Game 5 of the first round, the Carolina Hurricanes were pushed out of Boston facing a 2-0 series deficit following a 6-2 thrashing from the Bruins. The series will now turn to Raleigh, where the Canes will need to maintain their undefeated record in order to claw back into this best-of-seven series.
The Good - Not much
In reviewing the Game 2 loss, there will not be much that the Hurricanes will glean as a positive from their performance. One of the few positives was the open to the game, as the Canes did manage to control the action in the first 10 minutes on the road, but alas they were unable to break past Tuukka Rask to translate that effort onto the scoreboard.
Physically, the Canes were up to the test early, but as the game progressed that will seemed to subside. The Canes will need to sustain their physical play for the full 60 minutes if they want to provide the needed push back in Game 3.
Another small silver-lining is that Carolina was able to breakthrough after the game was decided with a pair of goals that can hopefully be a boost psychologically as they try to solve Rask in net. Nino Niederreiter provided a tip in front of the net, and later Rask made the first real mistake of the series for him as he provided a tape-to-tape pass to Teuvo Teravainen for the second Canes tally.
Take this energy into Game 3. pic.twitter.com/b4EKYm2eYN— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) May 12, 2019
Neither goal held any significance to the outcome on Sunday, but Carolina will hope to build an offensive game from those humble beginnings on Tuesday.
The Bad - Special teams woes
The Hurricanes are well aware that their power play issues have been a limiting factor not only for this playoff run, but for the season in general. Combining those woes with a red-hot power play on the other side has only served to put more pressure on the Canes ability to win the play during five-on-five action, which they haven’t really done for any sustained length of time in the first two games.
Again on Sunday, the Canes power play went 0-4, while Boston was a perfect 2-2 on the man advantage. While the Canes must do better on the kill to halt the Bruins, the Canes absolutely have to find a way either through not taking penalties or jump-starting their own power play to get get the special teams work as close to neutral as they can.
The Bruins’ work late in the first to add a second goal to their lead at the hands of Jake DeBrusk was a key factor in Boston taking charge of the contest. Notice that DeBrusk was unobstructed in front of Petr Mrazek, leading to him having multiple jam chances, and ultimately an opportunity to patiently slip the puck around Mrazek. The work in front of whomever is in net going forward must be much better to keep the Bruins away from in front of the Canes netminder.
The goal that, for all intents and purposes finished Game 2 as a competitive endeavor was the late second period powerplay marker from Matt Grzelcyk.
On the rush, Charlie Coyle was able to find a trailing Grzelcyk who used Mrazek’s aggressive tendencies against him to calmly flick a backhander past Mrazek who was well out of his crease. It was one of the few times all season where an opponent was able to use the aggressive style of Mrazek against him. That will be interesting to follow if Mrazek remains in net in this series.
The Ugly - Loss of focus and discipline
This is not meant to be a focus on Captain Justin Williams because of his run-in with Brad Marchand. Obviously, Marchand is a player worthy of whatever “frontier justice” may end of finding him somewhere down the road in his NHL career.
Justin Williams gets the only penalty in this confrontation with Brad Marchand and I’m sure everyone will react reasonably!! pic.twitter.com/NWm7g9fAYV— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 12, 2019
With that being said, at this point you have no choice but to expect that the NHL officials on ice are going to have the awareness of a WWE referee when it comes to Marchand’s antics. If you are the Hurricanes, you have little choice at this time but to simply play through the trouble the Boston might continue to stir up.
Ultimately, the more these two teams play at five-on-five, the better the results can/should be for the Canes. Williams was disappointed in himself after the game saying, “I’ve got to know better.” I think his history shows that he does know better, and will look to make good in front of the home fans as the series shifts to Raleigh.
The Hurricanes may have a decision to make in net prior to Game 3. While Mrazek appears to physically be recovered from his lower body injury, the sharpness and focus that was on display before the setback has not be apparent. The first goal of the afternoon that turned the tide was a soft goal to allow in the playoffs as it slipped under the right arm and leaked through.
In general, Mrazek has appeared a bit more frantic and loose in the first two games. Pucks that he held onto when he was going well against the Capitals and Islanders are now spitting out for rebounds and second opportunities. If the Canes are looking to make a switch to Curtis McElhinney, Game 3 may be the time. If not, hopefully Mrazek can refocus and return to form in short order.
Moral of the Story
The Hurricanes have been here before. Falling behind 2-0 is not a death sentence, but it does apply pressure to the Canes to return home and dish out the same kind of effort that the Bruins supplied to their home fans in Game 2. With a 5-0 record thus far at PNC Arena, counting this bunch of jerks out would seem like a foolish thing to do. Knowing all that this team has persevered through, as well as the intense will and fight they have shown all year, it is hard to imagine them not answering the bell with a solid effort at home on Tuesday night.