Special Teams! Special Teams! Special Teams!
Sorry again for the delay on posting my thoughts. Read most of your comments and it seems to me y'all had some pretty good observations on the game. Anytime you are up 2-0 in a series and heading into the oppositions building for game 3, you expect them to come out hard and toss all they have at you. NJ did that at the start of the game and was able to take the 1-0 lead. AS the road team it is important in these kind of games to stay patient and wait for some breaks, and the Canes did that. They weathered the storm early and then got a PP. Once again, they were able to score on the PP and that seemed to turn the tide somewhat. Another break came shortly after the goal when NJ turned the puck over in their own end and J Williams was able to take advantage of it. To be up 2-1 at the end of 1 is a good spot to be in as the road team. However, the intermission gave NJ some time to regroup and it showed early in the 2nd when they came out hard and had the Canes on their heels. With the score tied 2-2, the Canes got a great opportunity to take control of the game with the 4 min. PP at the latter part of the period, and once again the PP took full advantage of the chance it was given. A real positive for me is the fact that for, I believe, the third time in the playoffs the Canes went into the 3rd period with a 1 goal lead and were able to protect it. That is huge this time of the year. There is no doubt that in playoff hockey there will be times within the game were the tide seems to be changing and the key in those times is to maintain your focus and simplify your game until you can get a chance to turn it around. There is no question that the Canes are getting some breaks in this series( just look at Staal's goal in Game 2), but the key is to take full advantage when those opportunities present themselves and the Canes are doing that, especially on the special teams. That has been the difference in the series. As for game 4, the extra day will give NJ some time to look at the tape and see what they did that worked and what didn't. The Canes will try not to sit around the hotel for 2 days waiting, but instead try to rest and get ready for the next game knowing that it is important to not let NJ get any momentum. The clinching game is always the hardest to win, especially when your facing a proud franchise like NJ that has had a lot of playoff success in the past. Saturday's game sets up to be a good one.