RALEIGH, N.C. -- Rod Brind'Amour is concerned mental fatigue has set in with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Brind'Amour, Carolina's first-year coach, discussed the topic after a light practice at PNC Arena on Monday, about 18 hours after the Hurricanes finished slogging through a 6-2 loss against the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final to fall behind 2-0 in the best-of-7 series.
Game 3 is at PNC Arena on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).
[RELATED: Hurricanes goalie for Game 3 not finalized | Complete series coverage]
"It looked like we were really tired," Brind'Amour said of Carolina's play in Game 2. "We have only played two games in 10 days, but I think the mental fatigue got to us. There's been a real strong push by our guys for about four months and it just felt like we didn't have that extra gear you need at this time of year."
Brind'Amour acknowledged mental fatigue has been a concern of his for a while, especially because the Hurricanes had to start pushing hard right around New Year's Eve to even reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Video: Reaction to Bruins' huge Game 2 win against Carolina
They went 31-12-2 in their final 45 games and clinched a playoff berth April 4, two days before the end of the season. They were down 2-0 against the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference First Round before winning in seven games.
They swept the New York Islanders in the second round but blew a 2-1 lead after two periods in Game 1 against the Bruins and lost 5-2. Now they're down two games after what arguably was their worst game of the playoffs, including a 6-0 loss against the Capitals in Game 5 of the first round April 20.
"I'm shocked that we've got this far without having that," Brind'Amour said. "From Jan. 1 we've had to get into playoff mode and we've had to grind these guys. There's only so many times you can go to the well where they don't respond, and it happened the other night."
Brind'Amour said it showed in all facets of the Hurricanes' game, from their lack of execution and urgency on offense, to the defensemen being slow to their assignments, to the lack of coverage in front of their net.
An off game by goalie Petr Mrazek didn't help; he allowed six goals on 25 shots.
"We were just late to everything," Brind'Amour said. "The whole thing was not what I've seen all year out of our group."
Video: Bruins rout Hurricanes to take 2-0 lead in ECF
Penalties hurt the Hurricanes again too. They committed two in Game 2, each by forward Justin Williams, their captain, and the Bruins scored on each to improve to 4-for-7 on the power play in the series.
"Kudos to them, they haven't allowed us to do what we wanted to do, but shame on us for not being able to instill our game and focus on what we do," Williams said. "We just need to rediscover that, redefine ourselves. If we're going to lose, we're certainly not going to lose how we did the first two games because that wasn't us."
Williams said a key to the Hurricanes getting back to their identity is finding a way to put some pressure on the Bruins.
"The key to our team is from the (face-off) dots down, the forecheck," Williams said. "We hound. We haven't been able to do that."
It takes energy and persistence to play that kind of game. Do the Hurricanes have enough left in their tank to do it?
Brind'Amour thinks they do, but you wonder if that's just a coach putting an optimistic spin on a growing problem.
Remember, the Hurricanes have 12 players who have made their NHL playoff debut this spring, and only Williams, forwards Jordan Staal and Teuvo Teravainen, and injured defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk previously have played in a conference final.
"I think there's enough pride in that room that they're going to dig in for a little more," Brind'Amour said. "Being at home is going to help. I think that's just going to give you a little bit of energy, but we're going to have to execute a lot better if we want to continue playing."
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