The Canes’ performance in round two of the Stanley Cup playoffs so far feels awfully familiar. The Loudest House in the NHL helped lead the team to two-straight home wins to lead the series against the Rangers 2-0 — just like they did in round one against the Bruins.
Despite an early lead, the Hurricanes’ first-round series made it to a game seven in Raleigh, in which they narrowly won 3-2. The favored Canes team failed to win any of the three matches on the road. Carolina has now lost both of their road games against the Rangers. To assure success in game six and in the playoffs moving forward, the Hurricanes need to learn to win when they’re not on their home ice.
Fan Loyalty & Consistent Offense
In this series, the Carolina Hurricanes’ road games take place at the famous Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Rangers. Madison Square Garden is only slightly bigger than the Bruins’ TD Garden, holding 501 more people.
Luckily for the Canes, the Rangers record lower attendance numbers than the beloved Boston Bruins. The Bruins are eighth in the NHL in attendance, while the Rangers fall in the lower half of the league at seventeenth. A lack of fan loyalty in New York could provide an advantage to the Hurricanes as they look to win on the road on Saturday.
In Boston, the Canes stayed consistent offensively, with two goals in each of the three away games. However, it wasn’t enough. The Bruins scored at least four goals in each of these matchups to walk away with the wins on their home ice.
In games three and four in New York, the Hurricanes showed a similar consistency, with one goal in each of the matchups. Yet again, they found themselves outscored, with the Rangers scoring three goals in game three and four in game four.
There is nothing wrong with consistent offense, but if Carolina wants this consistency to lead them to a win on the road, then they need to learn to consistently put up more goals.
Scoring on the Power Play
The Hurricanes lead the NHL in penalty kills, but struggle to score on power plays. The Canes are thirteenth in the league in power-play percentage, with 22.0%. This lack of power-play goals caused issues for them in their series against the Bruins. In-game three, Boston’s defense was greatly aided by their penalty kills, for which they went 5-5. The Bruins were able to force a game seven in part due to killing all four of the Canes’ power plays in game six, including a 5-on-3 power play.
In-game three, the Rangers had three penalties, but the Hurricanes weren’t able to get a goal in any of these power plays. They had two power plays in game four, but once again, failed to score. The Canes are now 0-9 on the power play in this series.
The New York Rangers are no strangers to power-kill success. They are seventh in the league in power kill percentage, with 82.3% compared to Carolina’s leading 88.0%. If the Hurricanes want to find success in New York for game six, they will need to find a way to take advantage of their power play opportunities.
Mentality & Revenge
Also essential to their game six road win against the Rangers is the Canes maintaining the mentality that allowed them to clutch first place in the Metropolitan Division. Back in April, the Hurricanes beat the Rangers twice in the span of two weeks to maintain their first-place position. The mentality was that the Rangers were the only thing standing in the way of a division title for the Canes, and they did what needed to be done to win their title. For Carolina to find success at Madison Square Garden, this mentality must follow them. Now, the Rangers are the only thing standing in the way of the Hurricanes making round three of the playoffs, and once again, they need to do what needs to be done.
Revenge by former Rangers can also aid Carolina on the road. Six current Hurricanes used to play for New York, including starting goalie Antti Raanta. These former Rangers led the Canes to wins in three of their four regular-season games against New York. Even when the Canes suffered their only loss against the Rangers this season on March 20, they outshot their opponent 44-18. Determination by former Rangers to beat their old team may prove essential to the Hurricanes’ success in game six at Madison Square Garden.
Although the beginning of the Canes’ round two series shares striking similarities to that of round one, the team must learn how to win on the road to continue having a successful postseason.