The Carolina Hurricanes are in a 0-2 hole in the Eastern Conference Finals as they head home to Raleigh for a must win situation Saturday night.
229 times a road team has fallen into a 0-2 hole in a series and only 22 times have teams come back to win a series in that situation.
The odds are against the Hurricanes and their biggest concern is finding a way to neutralize the Penguins dynamic 1-2 punch down the middle in Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.
Evgeni Malkin took his game to a next level Thursday night, recording a hat trick and an assist as the Hurricanes had no answer on how to slow down Malkin from the drop of the puck.
Malkin credits his mom’s home cooking for his strong play as his parents are in Pittsburgh for the duration of the playoffs.
The NHL scoring champion has surpassed his points total from the 2008 playoffs (23 pts) and has a one point lead on teammate Sidney Crosby (24 pts) for the playoffs scoring lead.
Malkin has 10 goals – 15 assists – 25 points in 15 games and has 6 points through the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Trying to slow down Malkin is a task in itself, then you also have to find a way to combat Sidney Crosby.
After neutralizing Crosby for the most part in game1, the Hurricanes didn’t have much luck in game 2.
Crosby was a force at both ends of the ice, finishing the game with a goal and an assist. Crosby was also 62% on face-offs and won key draws against Hurricanes faceoff king Rod Brind’Amour.
Secondary scoring, neutralizing the Penguins offensive attack are all major areas of concerns for the Hurricanes in game 3.
Their number one concern is slowing down Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Personnel wise they don’t have any answers.
The lack of a true shutdown defenseman has come to the forefront in this series for the Canes
Going up against deep offensive teams like New Jersey and Boston that lack a true superstar player, you are able to get away without having a shutdown defenseman.
When your going up against two of the top centers in the world, who can take over a game at any minute, your going to be exposed.
Carolina is finding that out in person.
Transition game improves in game 2
The Penguins were aggressive in the neutral zone and their transition game was quicker than it was in game 1. The result was 42 shots on goal, an increase of 11 shots from game 1 and 7 goals scored.
Practice makes perfect!
Fleury “skaky” in win
Marc Andre Fleury had a rough go for the most part in the Penguins 7-4 win. Fleury was not able to maintain the Penguins momentum early in the first period as Chad LaRose scored less than two minutes after Sidney Crosby and Jussi Jokinen scored 25 after Evgeni Malkin to tie the game at 2-2.
What the team was talking about after the game is how Fleury may key saves at key moments such as stopping Eric Cole in front of the net on a tip in that would have cut the Penguins lead to 6-5.
Penguins will hold optional practice then depart for Carolina
The Penguins will hold an optional practice on Friday at Mellon Arena. They will depart for Raleigh in the afternoon.