It must be the southern cooking. Or the suddenly full PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes are the only team remaining in the playoffs which are undefeated at home. Carolina is a perfect 5-0 and has been a different team on home ice. The Boston Bruins are preparing for the raucous crowd Tuesday night.
Carolina feeds off the atmosphere which has been building since the Bunch of Jerks were born via silly postgame celebrations and Don Cherry’s labeling them as jerks; a label which they’ve worn like a red badge of courage. The adage is a team isn’t in trouble until it loses on home ice and Carolina is hoping something can help them turn the series around.
“Obviously we have done well at home, hope to get on them pretty early here tomorrow and carry that over for a couple of games,” said Justin Faulk to reporters post-practice.
Carolina Hurricanes practice was quick and to the point Tuesday. It felt more like a morning skate than a practice. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour changed the line combinations as Jordan Staal was between Andrei Svechnikov and Teavu Teravainen. Sebastian Aho dropped to the second line. Jordan Martinook did not practice. Just consider practice days maintenance days for Martinook.
Carolin Hurricanes Practice Combinations:
Saku Maenalanen has shed the yellow “no contact” sweater was a full participant at practice. Maenalanen was joined by Jake Bean and Patrick Brown at practice. Brown and Bean were recalled from the AHL Charlotte Checkers on Monday. Petr Mrazek was in the home goal for Carolina.
Do not read much into the new line combinations as head coach Rod Brind’Amour told reporters after practice, “I wouldn’t worry about that. We told everybody to just go around. We didn’t practice, practice today.” If Brind’Amour decided to split up Aho and Teravainen, he wants balance in his lineup.
Despite the fact Petr Mrazek gave up 10 goals in two games in Boston head coach Rod Brind’Amour remained vague on who would start in net for Game 3: “We talked about it a lot. I could sit easily sit here and tell you who we are starting. Do we make a change, we might, but it might for a different reason than you guys think.”
Curtis McElhinney won his last three starts and could provide a different look against the Bruins.
Carolina has gotten to this point by relying on both Mrazek and McElhinney as they split time evenly. Once the playoffs began, Brind’Amour pegged Mrazek as the starter. The players, especially McElhinney have faith in him to get the job done. McElhinney will continue to prepare every game like he always does and if his number is called, he will go in and give his team the best chance to win the game.
The players on Carolina believe they can turn this series around. However, it will not be easy as Justin Faulk noted. “We have not quite touched our game in these two games, and we have a lot of work to do. We have to dig in and grind.”
One thing that concerns Brind’Amour is mental fatigue. Do not forget Carolina has been in playoff mode for the past four months. Eventually, that can take its toll on a team. “It looked like we were really tired,” said Brind’Amour. “There has been a real strong push from our guys for about four months and it felt like we did not have that extra gear you need this time of year.”
Boston will need to be prepared for a refocused and re-energized Carolina Hurricanes team. By no means is this series over. Carolina
Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final between the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes is set for Tuesday at 8 p.m. in PNC Arena.