The Carolina Hurricanes will attempt history tonight when they go for a clean sweep of the Boston Bruins in the season series.
The Canes have bested one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams three times this season, outscoring the Bruins 11-5. The Hurricanes caught the Bruins at an opportune time early in the season. In a span of less than a week in October, Carolina topped Boston twice as the Bruins stumbled through the haze of a Stanley Cup hangover.
That said, don’t take anything away from the Hurricanes’ performance in those two games. They were the better and more disciplined team by far in each and were playing their best brand of hockey under the previous coaching regime.
In the two teams’ most recent meeting, the Canes outskated a much more competitive Bruins team to earn the win. Falling down 2-1 early in the final 20 minutes, the Hurricanes scored three unanswered goals in the latter half of the period to win 4-2.
Head coach Kirk Muller wants to see that kind of effort replicated tonight, but he knows it won’t be easy.
“We’ve got to play our game,” Muller said after practice on Wednesday. “Boston is a team that can play physical. They play hard in their barn. We can’t get caught up in that kind of stuff. We’ve got to play strong, play hard and play physical, but play clean.”
In their last nine home games, the Bruins are 7-1-1. They’ve outscored their opponents 39-16 in that stretch. In their last 19 home games, they are 15-2-2. Carolina, on the other hand, has won just two road games since Muller took over.
That said, Boston has struggled this season against the Southeast Division, posting their only losing record against a certain division at 5-7. The Hurricanes, on the other hand, have a winning record against Boston’s Northeast Division at 8-3-3.
“You get out what you put in, and we didn’t put enough in [on Tuesday],” Muller said. “The good thing is, they did respond and they did come back. But we need that a little bit earlier. Going into Boston, we can’t have a slow start.”
Carolina will be without the services of Chad LaRose
, who is day-to-day with an illness. Drayson Bowman
was recalled Wednesday afternoon from Charlotte joining fellow Checker Riley Nash
on the Canes’ active roster. Hurricanes President and General Manager said over the weekend in Charlotte that Bowman and Nash were atop his list of NHL-ready prospects; by no coincidence, they’ve been the first two players recalled since the All-Star Break.Jaroslav Spacek
could re-enter the lineup tonight. He’s missed the team’s last seven games after taking a puck to the face. Should Spacek play tonight, look for Derek Joslin
to be the healthy extra on defense. Spacek was paired with Jamie McBain
in Wednesday’s practice.Cam Ward
will get the start in net. In three games against Boston this season, Ward has stopped 92 of 97 shots faced, a .968 save percentage. He’s coming off a stellar January, in which he recorded a .944 save percentage and averaged less than two goals against per game.Jeff Skinner
brings a three-game point streak (2g, 1a) to Boston. Tim Brent
has also put together a two-game goal streak. The Hurricanes will need contribution from all four lines tonight for 60 minutes should they look to sweep the Bruins for the first time in franchise history.
And do the Bruins know they’ll be trying to prevent history?
“Yeah, I’m sure,” Muller said, laughing. “Teams generally pick up on that stuff.”
But the Canes won’t simply roll over, especially in what has become such a heated season series.
“Every team is fighting for something right now,” Muller said.