Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 04/23/09 at 09:18 PM ET
In about 20 minutes, the Hurricanes and Devils will square off in game five of a hotly contested series wherein there were splits of each home set. The smart money says that whoever wins game five will win the series, but I think it’s pretty clear that this one is going to go the distance either way.
I’d like to take one moment to take a page out of the IPB book and inject some levity into a really tense situation with a really bad joke. Okay. Two bad jokes.
Why do melons get married in churches? Because they cantaloupe.
Where do cantaloupes do with their kids during the summer? They send them to John Cougar Melon Camp.
Seriously, some brief analysis after the jump
The key tonight for the Hurricanes will be to do what they did in game four. They played a very physical game in all three zones and they goaded New Jersey into taking some penalties that were retaliatory in nature. If they can keep this up, and this means you, Tuomo Ruutu, they might find some success.
I really want Ruutu to be Ruutu. By that, I mean that I want him to be physical. I want him to be a hitting machine. I want him to be a pest defensively. Also, though, I want him to prove himself to be an offensive threat. Carolina’s top line still hasn’t been nearly as active as we want them to be. They worked really hard in game four and created lots of scoring chances, but only had two points to show for it, which brings their total to a whopping three for the second season. This is unacceptable. Ruutu is a creative and powerful forward who can really make things happen with Staal and Cole. It’s time for that line to start cashing in.
More than that, I’d like to see him generating traffic in front. Until game four, there wasn’t much of that for the Canes, and they got under Marty’s skin in a way that few people have ever seen. Their charge will be to keep doing that. Early and often. Maybe draw some cross-checking penalties against the defensemen. Maybe set some screens for Staal and Cole. Maybe get a tip-in.
Brodeur is a consummate professional and has only once before in his storied career had anything even remotely resembling a temper tantrum. The key for the Canes will be to, even if it means getting a little bit dirty and paying a price for it, turn the screws on that. I don’t think Marty will get unwound, but he’s already shown that they’re in his head. I expect Carolina to test the waters, and I expect them to commit at least one honest-to-goodness goaltender interference penalty.
I expect the Canes to be very very aggressive in the first few minutes of the game. If noting else, to test Marty. To see if he’s been able to put game four’s frustrations behind him. They’ll also have to test the Devil’s’ resolve and their discipline.
Look for a game recap shortly following the final buzzer.
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.