Time to Reset the Table
Posted May 2, 2009
Time to Reset the Table....
The Carolina Hurricanes come away from their first effort at the Garden in Boston with a couple of different conclusions. Game one ends with the same outcome in terms of the score as game one of the previous series, but in this one there was some positives to build on. As I watched the game back last night, there were many times you could see the Canes "amp up" their offense and take the play to the Bruins. Granted, much of it was in "drive by" fashion but they did accomplish enough to say, this can be done.
Conversely, the Canes were their own worst enemies. At times, they were very careless with the puck. At times, they were lost defensively and at times not prepared to be totally physically committed. This is one team that if you are not efficient especially in what you do with the puck, this series can be over before the trees are in full bloom.
Personally, I don't think that will happen. It appears the Hurricanes can play with the Bruins. But Boston is so good and so well-oiled that if the Hurricanes are not totally at their best , they won't give themselves a chance.
The question is: How can the Canes make it better? Aside from the obvious points of staying away from turnovers and getting the puck deep on the attack, the Canes might be better advised to get back to the line combinations that brought them here.
There was a constant line shuffling act in game one. Paul Maurice adjusted his lines late in the Devils series and it worked for the short term. Uniting Ray Whitney with Eric Staal was particularly effective in game six. They played together in game seven, and that too was fine. But along the way that has been an issue at hand. Matt Cullen, Erik Cole and Rod Brind'Amour have been totally quiet offensively so the Canes went to their bag of tricks in game one of this series.
It appeared that the object was to get Erik Cole back into a scoring groove. He started last night with Brind'Amour and Sergei Samsonov. That was short-lived as Cole would finish the game with Staal and Whitney. That is the definition of putting all your eggs in one basket. That's fine, but it leaves the Canes thin on their other two lines and I'm not convinced that will work.
To win this series, the Hurricanes will have to match the scoring depth of the Bruins. They are as solid as they come with all four lines. The top nine forwards can score. Depending on where Blake Wheeler ends up, they have a 20-goal scorer as a tenth forward.
On the subject of making adjustments, it's time to reset for game two.
It might be the right call for the Canes to go back to the line combinations that got them here. That would mean Staal, Cole and Ruutu on the top line followed by Cullen, Whitney and Larose and round it out with Brind'Amour, Samsonov and Eaves. The good news is that Carolina's fourth trio of Jussi Jokinen, Ryan Bayda and Scott Walker were 'spot on" in game one and don't expect that to change. It's time to balance out the lines and get back to some chemistry. Game one was about turnovers and spotty play. It also was as disjointed as the Canes have been from a line combination standpoint. It's time to spread the wealth and get back to a balanced approach with some harmony.
Given the fact that the Canes know they can be far better in game two, by resetting the table and putting lines together with a long history together, it might enough to "turn the tables".