The task couldn’t be any tougher for the Carolina Hurricanes, as they try to repeat their Game 2 performances of the first two rounds of the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs and even up the Eastern Conference finals series with Pittsburgh tomorrow night.
Not only are the Hurricanes on the road against a higher-seeded team, but unlike in the series against New Jersey and Boston the ‘Canes are battling serious injury. It’s unlikely that winger Tuomo Ruutu will play, while fellow winger Erik Cole is going to be a game-day decision. Both players were injured in Game 1 and neither practiced today. Sticking with that storyline, Penguins forward Matt Cooke said he doesn’t think his hit on Cole was dirty.
The extra day of rest between games might actually work in the ‘Canes’ favor. And the hit could turn out to be another rallying point for a Carolina team that already didn’t lack for motivation in this postseason. Two days between games also gives the conspiracy theorists extra time to figure out all the ways the NHL is trying to favor Sidney Crosby and for Pittsburgh winger Chris Kunitz to figure out why he hasn’t scored a goal in 14 postseason games.
When you think about it, that Pittsburgh is at this point of the playoffs without any contribution from Kunitz shows just how remarkable Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have been in this postseason.