Like New Jersey and Boston before them, the Pittsburgh Penguins now have to deal with the ear-busting sound of the RBC Center in Raleigh after opening the Eastern Conference finals series with two home games.
But unlike the Devils and Bruins, the Pens are heading into the Carolina Hurricanes’ home with a 2-0 series lead, which right away gives them some hope that the crowd won’t reach its absolute fever pitch. And as Boston and Jersey both found out, you can continue to keep the crowd quiet by doing the things that make you successful. In Pittsburgh’s case, that’s getting plenty of shots on net and continuing to kill penalties the same way as Game 2, when the Pens were 3-for-3 against the Carolina man-advantage.
It also wouldn’t hurt if the Pens get another magical performance from Evgeni Malkin. But as Joe Starkey of the Tribune-Review wrote:
“The kind of performance Malkin delivered Thursday at Mellon Arena comes around about as often as a Pirates playoff game, even for the greats.”
The task of drawing up a game plan so slow Malkin down, of course, falls upon ‘Canes head coach Paul Maurice, who has been a revelation in his second stint as Carolina’s bench boss. Just getting the ‘Canes to the third round probably has earned Maurice a lengthy contract from his team, but if his pupils can make this series with Pittsburgh more competitive Maurice’s resumé would look even better. To do that, it might take the ‘Canes and the “Caniacs” all doing their part.