Canes, Caps set for Game 7
1. TRYING TO MAKE SVECH HAPPEN All signs point to Andrei Svechnikov being back in the lineup Wednesday night for Game 7. It still seems like a quick turnaround, but he’s now more than a week removed from the concussion he suffered in Game 3 and has gone through two full-contract practices. Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said Tuesday morning that Svechnikov had not yet cleared the concussion protocol, but it seems inevitable at this point. If Svechnikov can give the Hurricanes the same boost Jordan Martinook did Monday, it would be quite a lift. And in a Game 7 situation, there would presumably be less away-from-the-puck nonsense to distract him.
2. TAP INTO THE PAST Only Mark Messier (16) has more goals in elimination games than Justin Williams (15), and Williams’ 7-1 record and 14 points in Game 7s long ago labeled the Hurricanes’ captain Mr. Game 7. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, are 4-0 in their past four Game 7s, but among the players only Williams was around for any of that, and even him only the two in 2006. But Brind’Amour played in all four, and between him and Williams, perhaps a little of that experience will filter down to the less seasoned players. After all, the Hurricanes ran their recent – recent, as in the past 13 years – record in elimination games to 6-1 on Monday.
3. NOT-SO-SPECIAL TEAMS Washington’s power play has been the difference in the games in Washington, to no one’s surprise, really. “Their ace in the hole,” Brind’Amour said Tuesday. The Hurricanes have dominated this series five-on-five, only for the Capitals’ power play to pull them through at home. The Hurricanes need to stay out of the box and make whatever adjustments they can on the penalty-kill; it may very well decide the game.
4. DEFENSIVE SWITCH The Hurricanes used Justin Faulk and Brett Pesce against the Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-Tom Wilson line in the second half of Monday’s game with great success, after focusing the Jaccob Slavin-Dougie Hamliton pairing against that group throughout the series. Hamilton has struggled against Ovechkin since the play behind the net in Game 5 led to Washington’s third goal; look for the Hurricanes, without last change, to use both pairings against that line in Game 7 but lean toward Faulk and Pesce.
5. DRESS FOR SUCCESS Because the Game 7 winner’s second-round series against the New York Islanders will start either Friday or Saturday, the Hurricanes had to pack for five days on the road, just in case they have to be in Brooklyn on Friday. (That schedule will be determined by Tuesday’s Game 7 results, long after the Hurricanes fly to Washington.) If you’re going to bring that much luggage, you might as well give yourself a reason to use it.