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Series Living up to its Billing

Monday, 04.20.2009 / 10:50 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Series Living up to its Billing
Many thought this would be one of the closest first-round series across the league this postseason. After two consecutive overtime decisions, Carolina and New Jersey have shown that will indeed be the case.

Paul Branecky
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Now that the Hurricanes have worked their tails off for the majority of those two games, things are about as even as they can get. They have a very tough opponent in New Jersey, who has shaken off any doubts caused by its late-season slump. There are teams that entered the postseason with more fanfare than the Devils, but it’s hard to imagine a tougher opponent in this series.

We knew how responsible New Jersey is defensively, so it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that the Canes have managed only five goals in the first three games. That being said, they’ve done a much better job of banging bodies and cycling the puck down low, which they’ll have to continue doing to be successful and eventually get some breaks. Grinders like Ryan Bayda, Patrick Eaves and Scott Walker put in notable performances in that regard last night.

There’s a new poll on the front page about this now, so feel free to have your own input either there or on the beards, but my feeling is that if there’s one thing the Canes could improve upon, it’s clearing the puck out of their own zone when under pressure. 

Both of New Jersey’s goals in regulation came seconds after a Carolina defenseman had controlled possession of the puck behind the net (one a little more obvious than the other). Zach Parise’s goal last night was eerily similar to Mike Mottau’s goal in Game 1, where a hasty clearing attempt was sent to a well-covered Carolina player on the boards, allowing New Jersey to gain control of the puck and fire a quick shot on net that caught the Canes off guard.

That hasn’t been something the Hurricanes have been doing consistently throughout entire games, but it seems like each instance comes back to bite them. In a tight series that will come down to which team makes the fewest mistakes, eliminating those should go a long way.

You can’t ask for a much better effort than the Canes gave last night, and more often than not they’ll win if they bring that kind of intensity to a series that demands plenty of it. Here’s hoping that’s the case in a crucial Game 4 at the RBC Center.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
K. Versteeg 63 11 22 -6 33
E. Staal 63 10 23 -3 33
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81