Carolina Hurricanes: How to turn the series around

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 14: Jake DeBrusk #74 of the Boston Bruins reacts after colliding with Curtis McElhinney #35 of the Carolina Hurricanes which causes a disallowed Boston Bruins goal during the third period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena on May 14, 2019 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 14: Jake DeBrusk #74 of the Boston Bruins reacts after colliding with Curtis McElhinney #35 of the Carolina Hurricanes which causes a disallowed Boston Bruins goal during the third period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena on May 14, 2019 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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The Carolina Hurricanes came out fighting, but couldn’t get it done against the Bruins, as they’re now on the brink of elimination after a 2-1 loss in the ECF. Here’s how this team can turn things around and possibly find their way back into this series.

The Carolina Hurricanes came out swinging in the first period but just couldn’t find the net. They had four powerplays and a ton of open opportunities but could never quite finish. It seemed like no matter what the Canes brought Tuukka Rask just had an answer for it.

Shutting the Canes down all first period even after a dominate 20 shot performance. The other storyline of the first would be the lack of discipline from our Canes Captain, Justin Williams, as he found himself in the box three times after saying the Canes wouldn’t make the same mistakes going on the PK before the game.

The second period was more of the same as the Canes missed a couple more open chances and just weren’t capitalizing and the Bruins took advantage. Chris Wagner scored his second goal of the playoffs to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead, then Brad Marchand found the net on a back-hand while on the powerplay.

Calvin De Haan would answer to bring the Canes within one on a hard slapper that found its way through Rask’s pads for his first playoff goal.

The third period continued to show more dominance from Bruins goalie, as Rask stopped 10 more Canes shots and another Canes powerplay. Both teams went scoreless in the third as the Canes just couldn’t capitalize on more chances and the Canes took their third straight loss to fall 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Final.

The first two games were any better by any means as Game 1 was a mix of missed chances, and a stale powerplay and penalty-kill, ending 5-2, and was actually closer than the final score makes it seem.

I’m not really sure if the Canes are even aware that Game 2 even happened as they really didn’t even show up. The whole game looked like a JV High School game for the Canes side of things, while the Bruins just dominated.

The Canes got two goals, one on an deflection, which seems to the Canes only offensive strategy this series, and the other was a gimmie from Tuuka Rask that just kinda seemed like he felt bad for us and let Teuvo Teravainen just get an easy tosser to end the game 6-2.

But all this doesn’t mean that this series is over. The body is not yet cold. This is not time for an autopsy, it’s time for a resuscitation. Here is how the Carolina Hurricanes can join history as one of only a handful of teams that have come back from a 3-0 deficit in a series.

1. Capitalize On Chances.

The Carolina Hurricanes  came out thundering in the first period last night, absolutely dominating all categories of the game other than the goal sheet. They put up 20 shots to a Bruins 6, but just couldn’t get any past Rask.

That’s not saying they couldn’t beat Rask however. There was chance after chance, for open goals where the Canes just couldn’t capitalize. Not to mention Carolina going 0-4 on the powerplay in the first period of last night game

The Canes would finally get one past Rask on a hard slapper from De Haan, but that’s all they would get. The Canes were just playing what seemed like desperate hockey after that and just couldn’t put anything together.

Dougie Hamilton probably had the most scoring chances out of any other player but a lot of these chances were rushed plays where if you take just 5 more seconds or look for the next guy, there were better chances on the doorstep.

With that being said the game doesn’t rely on Hamilton alone. Teuvo Teravainen, Andrei Svechnikov, Jordan Staal, and Sebastian Aho, all missed solid opportunities on multiple occasions where the Canes had a wide open chance and just couldn’t capitalize.

Game 1 saw much of the same where they had open chances or grade A opportunities and the Canes would just whiff or not be able to capitalize.

When you can’t score on the powerplay, and you can’t score when you have open chances, you aren’t gonna win hockey games. If Carolina wants any chance of coming back in this series, they need to capitalize on their chances when they have them. They do that and suddenly they are the ones scoring first. They are the ones that are defending the lead.

2. Solve Rask.

Rask has been a complete nightmare to the Canes all series long. Averaging just 1.67 goals against, with a .944 save percentage against the Canes. In last nights game he shut the Canes down only allowing one goal on 36 shots against. In Game 1 Rask stopped 29 of his 31 shots faced, and in Game 2 stopped 21 of his 23 shots he faced.

It wasn’t like the Canes weren’t creating chances last night, they ended the game with over 4.42 expected goals (some hardcore analytics there), which was more than the Bruins who only had 3.24. But of course none of that matter when you can’t capitalize.

The Canes main strategy has been to throw the puck at the net and hope for deflections and that’s obviously not something to live or die by, but the Canes have stuck with it. In my opinion that needs to change because even though that strategy can work, you can’t rely on it, especially against a goalie like Rask.

The Canes need to figure out this Rask problem quick or their season could very well end on Thursday night. It starts with the first key mentioned earlier. If they can get to Rask early, they can keep him from getting zoned in. they do that and suddenly this next key becomes easier.

3. The Special Teams resurgence.

We probably sound like a broken record on this site by now but the Carolina Hurricanes powerplay and special teams have become a serious issue.

The Canes went 0/5 on the powerplay last night which really cost them the game. It also cost them Game 1 where they had a 2-1 lead going into the third but then let up two quick goals while on the penalty-kill that ended up giving the Bruins a 3-2 lead and they never looked back.

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The Canes haven’t scored on the powerplay since their first of the series, where Aho deflected the puck into the net, just three seconds into their powerplay.

Since then the Canes have failed to score on 11 straight power plays and the Bruins have not been scared to make Carolina pay for their lack of efficiency. This was showed in last nights game as both teams have 5 powerplay chances and the Canes didn’t score on any and the Bruins scored once.

That goal ended up being the game winning goal.

Although the Canes were able to finally hold the Bruins power play to just 1 goal on their 5  chances which was way better than past games (GM1 2/2, GM2 3/5), it still ended up being the difference. I said this in the article previewing this series possibility and I’ll say it again.

If the Canes powerplay can’t get it together the penalty-kill has to be amazing. If it isn’t the Canes will face the consequences and they have so far.

Canes need to get their special teams in order. If they can pull it together, I think the Canes could flip the script and take the series. If the Carolina Hurricanes become dangerous on the Powerplay and manage to kill any Boston Man advantages, Boston will not be as quick to try and get into their heads on the ice. That will be the real advantage.

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This series is not over yet. The playoffs are not over yet. Tomorrow around this time we will all be holding our breaths and screaming as loud as we can at the same time. No matter the result, we will have a team that has become relevant. A team that has given u a wild ride. But perhaps that ride is long from over.