In this time of year, motivation isn’t a factor. In fact, teams that find themselves in the position that the Hurricanes will tonight will want to keep themselves from being too excited, as strange as that may sound.
If the crowd at the RBC Center come 7:30 is anything close to the way it was in the first round, the Canes will take the ice to an electric atmosphere. There’s no question that will help them on the ice, as long as they channel that emotion in the correct way. They can come out firing, so to speak, as long as they don’t get away from the things that they’ll need to do to make them successful.
“You don’t want to get too emotionally involved and maybe get off your game, but hopefully we can get off to a good start and use [the crowd] to our advantage,” said Rod Brind’Amour.
“I thought Vancouver played a great road game last night, and Boston is probably going to try and do the same thing,” said Coach Paul Maurice, referring to the Canucks’ 3-1 victory in Chicago. “Very physical, really manage the puck and not worry about putting on a show. We’re home, and we want to get that crowd going and get them into the game, but we can’t be looking to throw those cross-ice passes like we had in Game 1 and open our game up.”
Staying out of the penalty box goes along with that. Every now and then a player looking to make a crowd-pleasing hit can do so without regard to the finer points of the NHL rulebook, which can be particularly dangerous early in a the game when neither team has a sense of how tightly a game will be called.
Against a normally lethal yet so far quiet Boston power play (23.6 percent in the regular season, 0-for-7 in the series), the Canes will want to limit the amount of time they spend shorthanded.
“They’ve got a real strong power play group, and I think we’ve done a decent job, but they’re going to make adjustments,” said Maurice. “That’s the reason that we were able to win Game 2 - keep them off that momentum on the power play.”
The Canes would love to do some damage of their own with the man advantage, but with just one opportunity in each game vs. the Bruins, Maurice isn’t sure they’ll get much of a chance.
“Boston just doesn’t take many penalties, so I’m not sure how much our power play is going to factor in,” he said.
On Boston’s side, forward Chuck Kobasew, best known around these parts for having been one pick away from joining the Hurricanes organization in 2001, missed practice yesterday with the flu, but is still expected to play tonight. Although the Bruins don’t get too caught up in matching the opposition’s top line with a specific forward unit of their own, instead relying on their defensive pairings, Kobasew’s line would be the one to go up against Eric Staal in key defensive situations.