Much as it was with the Hurricanes in Game 6 of their first round series with New Jersey, it seemed like a good bet that the Bruins would come out flying in an elimination game on home ice. As it turned out, Boston did not disappoint.
Chalk that one up as kind of a throw-away game for the Hurricanes. We called Game 1’s similar result a learning experience
, but the teams know each other well enough by now that there aren’t huge adjustments to be made. This is truly a situation where Carolina needs to forget and move on, because that just wasn’t their night.
Assuming the Bruins let them, that is. They’ll have some hope now coming back to Raleigh, but if the Hurricanes can get back to the game they displayed in Games 2 through 4, they should be OK, especially at home. Contrary to what you may be hearing elsewhere, the Canes played well enough to win those games regardless of what Boston was doing – the Bruins did not beat themselves.
Although the Canes were clearly frustrated during last night’s game (more on the Scott Walker incident in a bit), the key for them will be getting back to the loose/excited feeling they’ve shown prior to games in which they’ve been successful. If they let the Bruins’ physical play get in their heads or play with a nervous, “what if?” kind of mentality, they’ll make it harder on themselves than they need to.
If there’s one thing of concern to the Hurricanes heading into tomorrow night’s game, it has to be Phil Kessel’s coming out party (two goals) in Game 5. The Bruins’ leading goal-scorer in the regular season hadn’t been much of a factor up until that point, and the Canes don’t want to see him heating up now. One might say the Hurricanes will want to be wary of him, but his ineffectiveness prior to last night is a good indicator that they already were. Again, if they get back to their game, things should take care of themselves.
As far as Walker is concerned, we should get official word today, but a suspension is possible. There’s typically a lot of gray area with suspensions, but a game misconduct in the last five minutes is usually good for at least one game. Prior to the start of the postseason, the NHL warned the clubs that would be the case, and they’ve enforced it so far.
For comparison’s sake, Boston’s Milan Lucic was forced to sit one game for a similar offense in the first round against Montreal (around the 50 second mark of that video), also with under five minutes left. It should be noted that, in that case, Bruins Coach Claude Julien was not fined, which is also something the league has done in such scenarios.
In another incident in the Flyers/Penguins first-round series, Philadelphia’s Dan Carcillo was suspended for one game and Coach John Stevens received a $10,000 fine for Carcillo’s at-the-buzzer antics. Paul Maurice indicated after last night’s game that he suspects that might happen with him – “I may have to sell my truck,” he said – although it’s clear that the league views each case for its own merit.
No practice today, but it will nonetheless be interesting to see the mood of the team at this morning’s media availability, which is scheduled for 11:30. We’ll have more afterwards.