1. IT’S THE POWER PLAY, STUPID As bad as the Hurricanes were Saturday night, they had four dismal power plays – generating all of four shots on goal – and the game was still 1-0 and there for the taking. There’s only so much the Hurricanes can do about the Capitals’ high-powered power play, but there’s almost no route to victory that includes going 0-for with the man advantage with the game hanging in the balance. The Hurricanes practiced with the same units Sunday; Rod Brind’Amour isn’t changing that up at this point.
2. FILL THE PHYSICAL VOID The collective absence of Jordan Martinook, Micheal Ferland and Andrei Svechnikov was telling Saturday, when the Hurricanes missed the physical edge any of the three could have provided. (Ferland’s absence will loom large in the postmortem of the playoffs, whether the Hurricanes lose Monday or win the Stanley Cup.) Warren Foegele has upped his game in the playoffs, but the Hurricanes need more from someone like Brock McGinn, who is capable of throwing his body around but has been a nonfactor in the series.
3. AN UNLIKELY HERO Trevor van Riemsdyk may have been the Hurricanes’ best player Saturday night, not that there was a tremendous pool of candidates. It’s a good reminder that it takes some unexpected stars to win a playoff series. For the Hurricanes so far, that’s been Foegele and Lucas Wallmark, but it would help if someone else on the bottom two lines stepped forward. You can’t expect it. But you would appreciate it.
4. EMPTY THE TANK The Hurricanes spent a month playing must-win games and if Game 3 was figuratively a must-win there’s no doubt left about it in Game 6. This series long ago became a battle of attrition, with the Hurricanes missing three top-nine forwards and the Capitals down winger T.J. Oshie and defenseman Michal Kempny. If the Hurricanes can scrape through Monday, there’s no telling who will be left for a Game 7, on either side – nor the pressure the Capitals would feel at home.
5. YOUR BEST PLAYERS HAVE TO BE YOUR BEST PLAYERS (AGAIN, STILL, ETC.) The Hurricanes need more from the no-doubt, multi-millionaire NHLers they have left. Aside from Foegele, who started the series on the third line, the five other players on the top two lines have combined for 11 points. Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom have 15 for the Capitals alone.