So the Canes have pulled it off. (Yes, I get to go to a Pens game in Raleigh!) They sent the Boston Bruins packing. Marc Savard and company will be holding a charity golf event shortly. The Raleigh residents are already reacting. They’re having visions of 2006. They want the Cup again. They believe they have what it takes. That is, until they play the Penguins...
The Canes are winning most of their games by grit, toughness and utter determination. Cam Ward is living up to his Conn Smyth ways by carrying his team thus far. And that’s not good news for the Penguins.
According to Brian Metzer,
If my quick calculations are correct, Ward has posted a 9-2-1 record in 12 games against the Penguins, while posting a 2.56 GAA and a .910 save percentage. He just seems to play lights out in most games against the Penguins...when you combine that the methodical game that the Hurricanes play, you have a formula for success.But when you consider what and how the Penguins have been winning games, these statistics may not matter. Crosby and Malkin have combined for 40 points in this post season and are leading the Penguins on an offensive tear. Not to mention the, shall I say, lock-down defense the Penguins are displaying as of late?
All that aside this series will indubitably be a barn burner. The Penguins are coming off 13 hard fought games facing the leagues most powerful offenses, including the games most deadly shooter. The Canes are coming off of 14 hard fought games which were lathered in drama. The difference, the Pens were picked to win, the Canes were not. But that doesn't mean anything now. Now these two teams have to face each other and see if they can overcome the media. Staal vs. Staal we’ll hear and read about.
There are actually some great similarities between these teams this season. Each had times in which they struggled and both spent a good deal of the season outside of the playoff hunt. That is until management stepped in and replaced their coaches and added some key parts to bolster their offenses.
Carolina added 2006 Stanley Cup coach Paul Maurice and brought back Eric Cole from the Oilers. They also added Jussi Jokinen from the Bolts who has been nearly the best pre-trade-deadline acquisition in the league.
The Penguins fired head coach Michel Therrien and called up WBS coach Dan Bylsma. They also added some veteran leadership in acquiring Bill Guerin for just about a cup of coffee. Likewise they traded Ryan Whitney away to the late Anaheim Ducks and added a much needed power forward in Chris Kunitz.
Since mid February both of these teams have been on a tear. Both have impressive records in their last 20 or so games that have carried them over into the post season; hence, each reaching the Eastern Conference Finals.
Here is the schedule:
2 Thursday, May 21, 7:30pm ET on TSN Hurricanes at Penguins
3 Saturday, May 23, 7:30pm ET Penguins at Hurricanes
4 Tuesday, May 26, 7:30pm ET Penguins at Hurricanes
*5 Friday, May 29, 7:30pm ET Hurricanes at Penguins
*6 Sunday, May 31, 7:30pm ET Penguins at Hurricanes
*7 Tuesday, June 2, 7:30pm ET Hurricanes at Penguins
I most certainly will enjoy this. Being a Pens fan in Raleigh will certainly bode for numerous conversations among my countrymen. I will post some keys-to-winning at another point, more than likely over the weekend. But for now I bid you adieu.
Good night and good luck.