The Carolina Hurricanes were in the perfect position to have a chance to close out the series at home in Game 5, but instead, a brutal loss in Game 4 sees the series heading back to Raleigh tied up at two games apiece.
Boston was missing its two top defenders.
The Hurricanes jumped out to an early lead, twice.
They controlled play at even strength.
But despite all of that, Carolina couldn’t stay out of its own way, piling on the self-inflicted injuries one after the other.
It was a loss based purely on mental failures that snowballed out of control, too far gone for the Canes to reel back in.
So what happened last night?
It’s the same exact issue that plagued the Hurricanes all season. Poorly timed and ill-advised penalties. It’d be one thing if it was just the occasional penalty here and there, but nearly every penalty that this team takes is an avoidable infraction.
There was no case for an officiating bias here. The Canes earned all the calls against themselves. Not to mention the lazy plays that have put the team two-men down multiple times.
Being the best penalty killing team in the league doesn’t matter if you’re spending a third of the game in the penalty box.
It isn’t a matter of if a power play will score at that point, it’s a question of when.
The mental discipline needed also goes beyond cleaning up small infraction mistakes. The Hurricanes also have to be in better emotional control. For instance, Tony DeAngelo is too important a piece of the Hurricanes’ offense to be taking himself out of the game because he can’t control his emotions.
It was obvious that Marchand got into his head, and the cross-checking penalty in the third was an indication of frustration.
The Canes need better from him.
If the Hurricanes want to win this series, they have to play it at five-on-five. They are the better team, the deeper team, but if they keep taking these bad penalties, they are going to be another early exit.
The power play has scored only twice and even given up one goal in the 22 attempts they’ve had in the series. It is actively hurting them at this point.
The play stays on the perimeter, the passing is slow and the shooter is always telegraphed. The team makes no use of the bumper slot, and the vast majority of their shot attempts are being blocked.
Something needs to change.
With no threat of power play success, Boston doesn’t have to worry about the infractions they take to get under Carolina’s skin. They also can take borderline hits, because the Hurricanes can’t do anything to deter them.
The only two goals Carolina has scored on the man-advantage this series came in Game 2, when the Canes had nine power play opportunities. One was a slapshot that should have been stopped and the other was a loose rebound stuff on a 5-on-3 advantage and both came with the Hurricanes already ahead in the game.
The power play has to score a goal when its needed though.
It has to be able to convert or someone needs to be able to address why it hasn’t worked in the postseason for the past four years.
Heart and Energy
The energy was definitely sucked out of the team after they gave Boston the lead early in the third period.
But even before that, when the penalties started to pile up in the second period, it just seemed that Carolina was mentally giving up. Lazy penalties and half-hearted attempts at offense gave no indication that the team wanted to rally.
The physicality that had energized them through the first two games of the series was honestly lacking as well.
The Bruins do a great job of locking things down once they grab a lead, but the Canes are too good of a team and too deep to come up that empty-handed for an entire period when you’re trailing in a playoff game.
Jordan Staal and his line are giving it their all, and it’s time that the rest of the Hurricanes’ lines follow suit.