Just reading through the AP preview posted on our site, I thought Ray Whitney had an interesting quote about tonight’s Game 7.
"It's definitely exciting for us, it's especially exciting because in January we were struggling and trying to get to .500," he said. "I don't think anyone even expected us to get to the playoffs and now we are one win away from the conference semifinal. We are excited but not satisfied.”
First, it shows that the Canes have a big-picture awareness of just how far they’ve come since the mid-season low points. Starting from behind, they needed to go on a serious run to make the postseason, which they did. It even got to the point where a “just happy to be here” appearance was out of the question, and the team was in a position to go on a nice run.
More importantly, it may indicate that the Hurricanes aren’t feeling a lot of pressure heading into tonight’s game, which can be a very good thing. That burden may fall more on the Devils, the higher seed playing at home against a team that has already won one elimination game. Thanks to adjustments made by the Hurricanes' coaching staff in terms of mixing up forward lines and finding a way to limit the Devils’ top scorers, which New Jersey hasn’t been able to answer yet, I also feel that the Canes have had the upper hand for the majority of the last three games.
At least from Whitney’s quote and some of the others that have surfaced in the last few days, it seems like the Canes’ attitude hasn’t changed from the first time their backs were against the wall. Whitney did use some variation of the word “excited” three times in the above quote, a word which was reminiscent of what we heard on Sunday morning, and one that Coach Paul Maurice loves to hear.
The “nothing to lose” phrase that also creeps in every now and then not be technically correct (I mean, it’s only the season, right?), but we’ve seen what happens when the team plays loose like they did in Game 6, as opposed to tense like they did in Game 1.
That being said, tonight’s game won’t be easy by any means. Even if the Canes come out flying, there’s still a great goaltender on the other end. As close as this series has been, I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole thing came down to one bounce or one deflection like it did in the last game at the Prudential Center.
Here’s hoping they go in the other direction this time around.
I’ll leave you with some all-time Game 7 stats for both the Hurricanes and Devils that the NHL was nice enough to provide to us. A lot of experience and some big performers on both sides. The Canes may want to keep their eyes on Mike Rupp, of all people.