“It was just one of those nights.” They were muttered everywhere after the Carolina Hurricanes dropped Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final to the Boston Bruins 2-1 last night. In fact, it was just one of those nights for the Canes. But that doesn’t make it feel any better or sting any less as the end of this miraculous run seems to be coming sooner rather than later.
The Bad - The Miscues
From defensive breakdowns to unnecessary penalties by the captain, there were enough miscues last night to go around.
Justin Williams knows how lethal the Bruins power play has been this postseason. He knows his team cannot take penalties. Yet he came out and took three minor penalties in the first period. This series seems to be getting to Williams and it has shown by the way the rest of the team has played. He has to lead by example like he did in the first two rounds and last night he failed to do that. These are avoidable miscues that just aren’t Carolina hockey.
Williams hits Krug up high, and the Bruins officially own real estate in Justin Williams' head. pic.twitter.com/D2bJXaLylu— Tucker Boynton (@Tucker_TnL) May 15, 2019
On the back end both goals given up to the Bruins can be attributed to miscues. On their first goal Justin Faulk completely lost his man allowing him to get free in front of Curtis McElhinney.
While Brett Pesce originally was covering Chris Wagner, when he went down to block the pass, Faulk was nowhere to be found for support. Sticking with the Faulk theme, later in the second period on Brad Marchand’s game winning goal, Faulk was undressed setting up a grade-A opportunity that then got deflected in.
Both Faulk and Williams are leaders on this team and wear letters on their chest to symbolize that. The Hurricanes need the very best from those guys night in and night out, and last night they got nothing but a poop sandwich from them both.
The Ugly - The Power Play
There’s no need to beat a dead hose when it come to how bad the power play has been for the Hurricanes this season. We all know it. But when your team is down 2-0 in the Conference Final and is given four power play chances in the first period, including a significant and lengthy 4 on 3 chance, you would think just maybe they would come through.
That first period and the inability to score on the power play was likely the true turning point in this series. The Canes carried momentum the entire first period and PNC Arena was ready to explode. Yet the special teams came up empty time after time, allowing Boston to take the lead in the second and never look back.
When the season is finally over the biggest area of concern that needs to be address is the power play. Rod Brind’Amour has overseen it far too long without results. Is the answer hiring a new coach to assist RBA or is it getting more talented players? That’s up to Don Waddell and company to decide, but this absolutely has to be a priority in this off season.
The Worst - 3-0
A 3-0 series deficit is about as defeating as it comes. Can it be overcome? Absolutely; look no farther than Justin Williams (who was once on a comeback side) or the Bruins (who were once on the other side) to see where it can happen. Will it happen? That is where things get murkier.
The Canes finally found their game after losing it in the third period of Game 1 last night. But it seems as if though it may be too late for it to matter. Falling behind 3-0 is a nearly impossible mountain to overcome. The only way it can even possibly be done is to come back Thursday and take it game to game. As Brind’Amour said last night, they can’t win four games tomorrow.
The Hurricanes find themselves in this situation for numerous reasons. From the ineptitude of the power play, to having too much rest from their last series, to simply running in to their best opponent yet. Every step along this crazy path that 2019 has taken the Canes on has been filled with adversity, but none bigger than what they face now. If there was ever a team that could pull off a massive comeback, the Canes fit the mold. But as a fan, the way things have gone so far, it’s really hard to see anything but the end right now.
Moral of the Story
Last night felt like Game 1 of this series in a lot of ways. The Hurricanes easily could have won that game, but they didn’t. The power play has cost the team once again and now their lifeline is barely hanging on to life support because of it. Senseless miscues played a large role in the loss as well, but the story line will be the special teams.
Should Thursday be the end, it’s been a helluva run. There’s always a chance they could turn this thing around and we would all love to see that. Yet at this point, it’s hard not to be the pessimist. Maybe they need to eat a double poop sandwich today? Because just a single one didn’t do the job. Maybe they just need lady luck to turn their way. Whatever the answer may be, if they don’t find it tomorrow their season will come to an end. Here’s to hoping that doesn’t happen!