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Changes coming for 'Canes after Game 1

by Shawn P. Roarke
BOSTON -- Success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is all about being able to adjust on the fly.

Fortunately for the Carolina Hurricanes, they already have plenty of experience in that art this postseason, having to fight their way from three deficits in a first-round series against New Jersey that went the full seven games.

After Game 1 of this Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the favored Bruins, Carolina is once again looking for answers. Saturday, just 12 hours removed from a somewhat dispiriting 4-1 loss at TD Banknorth Garden, Carolina coach Paul Maurice did not seem overly concerned.   

"We were singing pretty much the same song (last round)," Maurice said Saturday at the team's downtown hotel.

Ironically, Carolina opened the last round with a 4-1 loss to New Jersey -- a game in which it looked like a team that didn't belong on the same ice as the Atlantic Division champions. But 48 hours later, Carolina played a far different game, winning 2-1 in overtime to set the stage for a back-and-forth battle that was not decided until the final 80 seconds of Game 7.

Maurice says Game 1 against Boston was almost a carbon copy of the first game against New Jersey.

"Similar games, very, very similar," Maurice said. "I think Boston has more of a transition, but the top two lines in New Jersey are very similar off the rush, so it is certainly not the first time they will hear that message between Game 1 and 2."

Because of past success, the Comeback 'Canes not only will hear the message, but they'll  believe it. They have seen Maurice tinker with the system to get the most out of his team against a specific opponent. They have an implicit faith that they'll find the answers to the questions Boston posed Friday night.

"I think we feel they play a similar style to New Jersey with a few minor changes," forward Erik Cole said. "Same as New Jersey, where we had to adapt to some things that they were doing to open the ice up for ourselves; it's no different with this series. We're going to have to make some adjustments through the course of the series and I think in Game 2 we should be better."

What does Carolina have to do better?

First and foremost, the 'Canes have to cut down on the turnovers. Boston feasts on giveaways in the neutral zone and scored two of its goals Friday night in the wake of egregious decisions with the puck made by Carolina players.

"You have to get comfortable in your own skin and realize that they are going to control certain parts of the ice and you can only put a puck there if you are 100 percent confidence level," Maurice said. "We just need to get comfortable with that game again."

Carolina also needs to put Boston on its heels a bit more. Although Carolina outshot Boston, 27-24, the Hurricanes never really had sustained pressure on Tim Thomas. As a result, the Bruins were never put in a position to scramble in their own end. Not surprisingly, Boston only took one penalty in the game and has faced just nine penalty-kill situations in the entire playoffs.

"They didn't need to put themselves in any deficit positions physically because they were never chasing the lead, trying to force things themselves," Maurice said.

Eric Staal, the team's leading playoff goal-scorer with five, says his team will have to initiate more in the offensive zone in Sunday's Game 2.

"We need to create some havoc, get our feet moving, move the puck and eventually they will have to hold us, hook us," he said. "I don't think we had enough sustained pressure (in Game 1) to make that happen."

That appears to be a tall order. Can it be done? Of course, say the 'Canes. The proof is in Game 2 of the last round says Jussi Jokinen, who scored Carolina's only goal in Game 1.

"We need to create some havoc, get our feet moving, move the puck and eventually they will have to hold us, hook us.  I don't think we had enough sustained pressure (in Game 1) to make that happen." -- Eric Staal
"It gives us lots of faith we can bounce back," Jokinen said. "Against Devils I think we had 60 minutes of bad game and tonight we had 30 minutes bad and 30 minutes good, so that gives us lots of faith we can bounce back."

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