This could be it for the Carolina Hurricanes. Down 3-0 in the 2019 Eastern Conference Final, the Boston Bruins are just a win away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final and ending Carolina’s Cinderella story.
The goal for the Canes tonight: don’t let the clock strike midnight.
In front of their home faithful at PNC Arena, the Hurricanes have an opportunity to be the fifth team in NHL history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit and win a playoff series. Is it likely? Nope, but they’ve had a knack for doing the improbable all year. Who’s to say that should end now? (answer: maybe the Boston Bruins)
Here are some keys for the Hurricanes tonight.
My Kingdom for a Power Play Goal
In game three, the Hurricanes went 0/5 on the man advantage and it ended up being the big difference between a 2-1 series and a 3-0 series. If the Canes are to keep this series going tonight, their special teams simply have to be better.
In fairness to Carolina, Tuukka Rask’s play in net has played the biggest factor in that at times, but in the second and third periods of game three, execution was a problem as well.
The additions of Andrei Svechnikov and Jordan Staal to the top power play unit have certainly payed dividends with regards to the quality of opportunities they’ve gotten, but the 5-on-3 was a bad look on Tuesday. They failed to get any sort of great looks on a lengthy 2-man advantage and it ultimately played a significant roll in the club’s downfall in that game.
Perhaps the most surprising thing in this series has been the uncharacteristic lapses in judgement from players who always seem to be on the right side of that line.
Justin Williams’ three minor penalties in the first period of game three all were a result of going after Bruins defenseman Torey Krug. He also had a run-in with Brad Marchand in game two. That needs to be put to the side tonight. The entire focus from Carolina has to be on finding an answer for Tuukka Rask and keeping the mistakes to a minimum.
The Hurricanes can’t afford to gift the Bruins power plays or additional chances for the sake of letting emotions get in the way of their game plan.
Give Them Their Toughest Game of the Season
Regardless of what the outcome is, when the clock runs out in game four, the Hurricanes have to be able to look back and say that they laid it all out on the table. No regrets, no lack of effort.
Rod Brind’Amour said after game three that the Canes made it easy on Boston in games one and two. His team managed to come out and play one of their best periods of the postseason in the first period of that game three loss, but they just couldn’t get the puck in the net. It was deflating. In order to one-up that game three effort, the Canes need to play that brand of hockey for a full 60-minute game, not just 20 minutes and a few other stretches throughout the game.
This could be it, and the Hurricanes know that. Anything less than their best effort would be a failure. They have to give Boston all they have and make them earn it.