5.14.24 Notebook

RALEIGH, NC. - After salvaging their postseason journey with a four-goal third period on Monday night at Madison Square Garden, the Carolina Hurricanes are back in Raleigh ahead of Game 6.

The mission is far from accomplished, but momentum is now well on their side.

Well, depending on who you ask.

Rod Brind'Amour was proud of his group for finding a way to earn back-to-back wins with their backs against the wall, but today he shot down the notion that those have any impact on what comes next.

"In the playoffs, every game starts fresh.  Even though you're playing the same team, you almost toss (the previous game).  You have to start over," the head coach said on Tuesday when he answered questions from the media.  "You take everything that you liked out of (the previous game), obviously, you want to keep building on it.  But I really think that every game starts fresh and almost has no bearing on what's happened."

Even if Brind'Amour doesn't think that momentum within the series is a factor at the moment, one thing that nobody can deny is that the Canes have something even more valuable.  Belief.

There have been many examples already in this series that could have sunk a weak-minded team.

Carolina got walloped on special teams in Games 1 and 2.  In both Games 2 and 3, they were one shot away from winning but suffered overtime losses.  Already in do-or-die mode in Game 4, the Canes could have thrown in the towel.  Trailing going into the third last night, they could have accepted that fate.

Instead, they've yet to go away.

The coaching staff and group of players have chipped away the deficit, and as a result, they have plenty of reason to believe that they can pull off the improbable.

Of course, it hasn't been all sunshine and roses.

There are areas of which Brind'Amour and players alike have spoken about several times within the last week that they need to be better at, namely the power play.

Now an abysmal 1-for-20 in the series, changes have been made to personnel on both units, shaking up what had largely been a constant from the trade deadline until the end of Round 1.

Jake Guentzel, who had been with the team's first unit alongside Sebastian Aho for all but one game since coming over from Pittsburgh, is now with the second group.  Brent Burns, who had been the team's first power play quarterback for the majority of the year, has flip-flopped roles with Brady Skjei.

The head coach was asked on Tuesday how he balances feeling the need to shake things up versus sticking with what has made the team successful.

"How much do you juggle it all around? How much does that make you better in the short term? You got to this point doing something right, to be playing against the best team in the league in the playoffs. You had to have done something right to get there, so you've got to rely on that," Brind'Amour responded.  "You've got to be better, and you do make tweaks as you go, but you do fight that a lot."

Admitting that he's pondered all options, whether he opts to make adjustments or not, it all boils back down to one thing.

"Do you blow it all up? Do you trust these guys can get it done? You fight that all the time," he continued.  "At the end of the day, I think you've just got to believe in the guys."

In a similar position to the one that they found themselves in on Sunday, the team remains keeping their focus one day at a time.  One slip-up or one gander too far ahead could be the difference between remaining in the quest for a Stanley Cup and summer.

While today was used for rest and recovery, tomorrow will be used to rehone in on their details before they try and earn a third consecutive win on Thursday.

"We're fighting for our lives every game. We gave ourselves a chance to play another game and gave ourselves a chance to hopefully come back (to NY)," Jordan Martinook said post-game last night.  "We're just pumped for each other."

The attention will continue being the best version of the Carolina Hurricanes they can be, but zooming out, it's not hard to tell that the Rangers will likely be highly motivated and hungry coming back south.

New York Head Coach Peter Laviolette repeatedly said following his team's loss on Monday that they weren't sharp at all, but spinning it forward, he said that his team has a strong track record of bouncing back after performances like that.

In the first three games of the series, the Rangers' big dogs led the way, as Artemi Panarin, Vincent Trocheck, Mika Zibanejad, and Chris Kreider combined for 21 points.  In the last two games, they've totaled just one, a Game 3 Zibanejad assist.

Brind'Amour and the Canes hold the power of matchups for Game 6, and they'll try and keep the same cast of high-end players quiet again in two days, with support from over 18,600 at PNC Arena.