Sports

Five points for the Hurricanes going into Game 2

1. TOUUGGHER ON TUUKKA The two goals the Hurricanes scored Thursday on Tuukka Rask both came with traffic on the doorstep, Sebastian Aho’s power-play deflection at the edge of the crease and Greg McKegg crashing the net, the puck crossing the line a moment before McKegg ended up in Rask’s lap. It’s an old refrain, but Rask has been the best goalie in the postseason and the Hurricanes aren’t going to score any goals on him the easy way. They need bodies in front — and a lot more of them.

2. STAY THE COURSE The Hurricanes were on their game in the second period Thursday, getting pucks behind the Boston defense — especially the glacial, but still effective because of his reach, Zdeno Chara — and getting their forecheck in gear. They didn’t have the zip to get through the neutral zone in the first and lost their momentum in the third. They just have to do what they did in the second from the start Sunday.

3. SEEKING SAKU Saku Maenalanen’s big body would help in this series, and he practiced again Saturday in a non-contact jersey, but as good as he looks on the ice, the Hurricanes have to wait until his hand is ready. There’s no rush, with Patrick Brown a healthy extra — it will be interesting to see if he draws in Sunday for Micheal Ferland, who was up and down in his return to the lineup — and Jordan Martinook continuing to gut it out game after game.

4. DOUGIE FRESH The last thing the Hurricanes or Dougie Hamilton needed was him becoming even more the focus of fan and media attention before Game 1 was even over. The Hurricanes are going to have to play at least two more games in Boston if they want to win this series, and they can’t risk Hamilton becoming a sideshow. He needs to keep his emotions in check and stick it to his former team by creating chances, not anything else. The first penalty wasn’t his fault, but he needs to be on his best behavior now, cleaner than clean. “He got kind of the raw end of the deal, and I think he handled it right,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I think he’ll bounce back.”

5. THE RUSSIAN MULE Andrei Svechnikov continues to blossom, now given additional responsibility on the power play. Brind’Amour has generally slow-played the rookie’s role over the course of the season, but he indicated Friday the clamps are off. It’s time to let the kid run wild and see what happens. Put the load on the mule’s back, and he may be able to break open this series. He has the skill to do it. “I feel no pressure,” Svechnikov said. “It’s fun to play with those guys.”

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Sports columnist Luke DeCock has covered the Summer Olympics, the Final Four, the Super Bowl and the Carolina Hurricanes’ Stanley Cup. He joined The News & Observer in 2000 to cover the Hurricanes and the NHL before becoming a columnist in 2008. A native of Evanston, Ill., he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and has won multiple national and state awards for his columns and feature writing while twice being named North Carolina Sportswriter of the Year.
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