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Red and Black Hockey

Do or die in Carolina

Tonight, the Hurricanes face elimination against the Devils.  There is no tomorrow.  There is no alternative.  Win or stay home.  This is actually the way Tuomo Ruutu likes it.

“I kind of like this situation,” forward Tuomo Ruutu said. “You can put everything on the line and you really don’t have to worry about the next game, because if you don’t play well enough there’s not going to be a next game. You play this game like it’s your last game almost.”

  from CanesNow.

For Ruutu, it might be the last game of the season, but a segue into a contract extension.  The 26-year old Finn is scheduled to become a RFA on July 1.  He is coming off his most productive NHL season, scoring 54 (26/28) points in the regular season.  He was given a one-year contract last summer and has more than earned his $2.25M salary.

Ruutu is very much a fan favorite in Carolina, and he had a great regular season, but he’s been silent in these playoffs.  He has just one assist.  This isn’t going to cut it.  I’ve said before, and I’ll repeat.  Tuomo Ruutu is going to have to be a major player in this game if the Canes are to have a chance.  Chad LaRose can’t do it all.

Eric Staal has had a disappointing postseason, totaling just two (2/0) points, and Erik Cole hasn’t registered a single point.  Whatever line combinations Mo puts out there today, something better work. 

As it has been for every single game, another key will be to plant bodies in front of the New Jersey net.  Traffic is a really good thing.  Let the defensemen fire away from the points, and get the forwards in there to work the rebounds. 

The power play has been dreadful.  I don’t think “anemic” does justice to it.  Credit is certainly due to the Devils, who have masterfully killed penalties and forced things to the outside.  Making the power play work better is going to have to start from the neutral zone.  All series long, Carolina has had difficulty gaining the offensive zone and they’ve had difficulty setting up shop.

Sergei Samsonov did not practice and is doubtful for game six.  Matt Cullen also did not practice, but he will play.  He hasn’t practiced at all during the playoffs.  I’m not sure this is good strategy, but he’s looked good on the ice. 

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, new+jersey+devils, playoffs

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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. 

David has contributed to CBC.ca for their Stanley Cup playoff coverage in 2006 and to the New York Times Slapshot blog for theirs in 2008. Red and Black Hockey was founded in July of 2005.