Canes turn it over in their mind
They get one day to examine mistakes
There were no late-game heroics this time. There was no two-goal explosion in the final 1 minute 20 seconds against a future Hall of Fame goaltender as there was in Carolina's Game 7 victory over Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Instead, the Hurricanes - save for a few shifts here and there - looked positively ordinary in Game 1 of the semifinals last night against the Bruins, losing by a 4-1 score. Carolina's lone goal came at 18:50 of the opening period, with left wing Jussi Jokinen converting a Ryan Bayda drop pass from the top of the left circle.
In all, the Bruins outhit their opponents, beat them on faceoffs (31-29), blocked more shots (16-8), and nullified their top scorers - Eric Staal, Ray Whitney, and Tuomo Ruutu (a combined goose egg).
The Canes won't skate today but instead will regroup at their Boston hotel in preparation for tomorrow night's Game 2.
"We didn't play anywhere near the game that we believe we're capable of playing," said Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice. "We'll assess how much of that was us and how much of that was them, but, really, we weren't moving it the way we normally do."
One of the factors that did in Carolina was its number of critical turnovers. The way they happened was particularly irksome to the coach.
"I think it's the style of turnover that we did," said Maurice. "There's one thing where they're quick and their sticks are [picking off pucks], but when we regroup the puck five times and turn it over three and we've got to dig it out of our net, I'm not sure we've seen that this year. We did some things we're not very proud of tonight and we're going to do everything we can to eliminate them."
Staal said it was a matter of the Hurricanes not playing the way they should. After a fairly even first period, the game got away from them.
"We've got to be better than we were tonight," he said. "We just did things we talked about not doing, turning pucks over, not getting them deep. They're a good transition team and they'll make you pay - and they did. We're going to talk about it again and make sure we don't do it next game and be ready to go, because it's going to be a fight and we've got to be smart and we'll be better."
Staal gave credit to the Bruins and the way they played, but said the Hurricanes made it hard on themselves.
"We played into their hands, we played into their system," he said. "That's what they do, they get ahead and then clog it up through the middle and try to get you to make plays east-west and then pick them off and go the other way and they did that. We can't do that. We haven't done that in a long time. We'll be better next time."
Staal said there's a realization among the Hurricanes that they've lost to Boston all five times this season, but he said that can't enter into their thinking.
"We've got to know that we can beat these guys," he said. "We've got to feel confident, we've got to leave this one here and look forward to Game 2. It's the best-of-seven [series] for a reason and we can be better, we know that."
Staal said they need to stop turning over pucks, which was echoed vehemently by the coach.
"We gave them the puck in some strange areas and with not a lot of support back obviously," said Maurice.
The coach said whatever needs to be addressed doesn't need to be done on the ice. They can effectively work through their issues without practicing.
"This is the home of the Boston Marathon," he said. "It's like running eight marathons, the last thing we need to do is put our running shoes on. Our problem wasn't in our legs, it was between our ears."
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.