Complete the Task
Posted April 26, 2009
Complete the Task...
My apologies for being away for the last few days. The rigors of playoff hockey have taken over and four games in four nights have held me back from blogdom since earlier this week. As I sit back down to come up with something for tonight, I too have been in awe of how majestic this series has been. We have been all part of one of the greatest first round series in NHL history. We've seen "off the chart" goalkeeping, unbelievable skill, coaching adjustments/ match-ups and tremendous intensity. This has truly been what the playoffs are all about. But for the Carolina Hurricanes to beat the odds and win this series they have do something they have not done in this series, play a "complete" game. You see the Devils lead 3-2 in this best of seven slug-fest but in my own category of "complete hockey" they also lead 1-0. In order for more hockey to be played here in Raleigh after Tuesday at some point the Canes have to put it all together for three periods.
The Devils got the early jump in this category by totally dominating the first game of this series. The Hurricanes were not prepared to play and it showed. Nerves, lack of aggression or was it the Devs being just that good. It was quite clear who set the tone. New Jersey played hard and efficient for sixty minutes and completed their "task" to a in control 4-1 victory.
In game two, the Canes were as close to being 'complete" as you can be. They did allow New jersey to score first, did hand them six power play chances but were able to rally at the end of period one, get a goal from number 12 and force OT. Tim Gleason put his name into Canes' lore with his early overtime goal and here we were, even.
Game three was again close. New Jersey's ability to score first showed in Zach Parise's third goal of the series. It was answered by Ryan Bayda, but given right back by a poor play from Joe Corvo in the defensive zone which led to a Brian Gionta giving New Jersey another first period lead. Again, from that point even hockey. Travis Zajac steps up in OT. Advantage Garden Staters.
The fourth game was historic. Again, the Hurricanes had a chance to even the "complete" category at a game a piece. It was almost two periods of fundamentally sound hockey and a three goal lead until they breakdown late in the second and Brian Gionta scores on a breakaway. From that point on the Devils are reborn. They play with an edge, have the puck a great deal and tie the game on a goal by David Clarkson. Come on in Jussi Jokinen it's your turn to do something the NHL have never seen before. Series even.
At the "ROCK" in game five it was the best single game performance by two goaltenders I have ever seen. But before you can get to Brodeur going save for save with Cam Ward you have to look at the Hurricanes allowing 16 shots in the first period and Cam Ward being the reason why they would compete so hard in this classic. If not, New Jersey might have a lead after the first period and maybe the game goes down a different road.
So tonight it has to be a "complete" effort from the locals. The Canes need a stronger top line presence. They need better puck management and limit the unforced errors. They have to lead or be tied after the first period. The coaching adjustments have to be correct. Special teams vital. New Jersey is in a close out position this will be their best effort and Canes have to exceed that.
There is no margin for error. They trail by one "complete" game and it was their first showing. Even the terms tonight and then you can rely on luck, goaltending, a call or two in your favor. Anything can happen in game seven. To get there tonight's task must be completed.