RALEIGH, North Carolina — Recent history would say one thing: the Carolina Hurricanes will win Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Second Round.
But it’s not that easy. And it’s not that simple.
The Hurricanes enter Game 7 against the New York Rangers with home ice advantage, playing at PNC Arena on Monday (8 p.m. ET; ESPN, SN, TVAS), and it’s an advantage that has been insurmountable. for Stanley Cup Playoffs opponents.
Still, it will be a Game 7, with the Eastern Conference Finals on the line. And Game 7s can mean anything.
“We feel like we have the recipe for success, but they probably do too,” said the Rangers striker. Andrew Copp said Sunday. “It’s one where both teams feel confident. It’s just going to be about who can play the closest to a perfect game tomorrow.”
[RELATED: Complete Hurricanes vs. Rangers series coverage]
The Hurricanes enter Game 7 7-0 at home in these playoffs. They are 3-0 in Game 7 at home in franchise history, and Rangers are 2-5 on the road. Carolina has won six straight Game 7s, beginning when coach Rod Brind’Amour was still playing and scored the series-clinching goal against the Buffalo Sabers in the 2006 Conference Finals. The Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup.
If they won on Monday, they would become the first to win seven straight Game 7s.
“I think there’s confidence in general,” Brind’Amour said. “We know that if we play our game we will have a good chance. We are always focused on the next one and we have another day, so it’s a good opportunity.”
Sure, Rangers are 7-1 in their last eight Game 7s.
So, again, not so easy. Not that easy.
“A lot of pros look at this and say Carolina might have the edge there,” New York coach Gerard Gallant said. “A lot of people have said that. But me as a coach and our players, we don’t believe that. We just think if we play our best game we will win.”
The Rangers are also 4-0 against elimination in this playoff, winning again with their season on the line Saturday at Madison Square Garden, 5-2. They have one of the best goaltenders in the NHL in Igor Shesterkinwho has a .925 save percentage in those four playoff games and is a finalist for the Hart Trophy as regular-season most valuable player and the Vezina Trophy as top goaltender.
If Shesterkin is activated, this too is difficult to overcome.
“He’s been unreal,” Gallant said. “Obviously, he is in the running for the most valuable player award and the Vezina award. He’s been great to us all year. We rely on him. He makes big saves for us at key times and gives us a chance to win every game we play. , no matter who we play against.”
The Hurricanes have a plan to attack the Rangers in Game 7 because that’s exactly how they played in Game 5, a dominant and stifling hockey brand that limited New York to 17 shots.
“If you could play like this every night, you would,” Brind’Amour said. “Both teams are trying to get to that type of game, their game. Obviously, if we can do that, it increases our chances of winning.”
They may be able to. Maybe not. Anything goes when it comes to Game 7, a chance for a date with the well-rested Tampa Bay Lightning in the Conference Finals.
The losing team? Well, he’s coming home to wait for next season.
“The season is at stake, isn’t it? » Hurricanes Defender Tony DeAngelo said. “It’s a lot of fun. It takes a lot of character for the team to play the right way and get a win like we did last time. So we have to try to do the same. We made a series there is.”
Both teams are brimming with confidence, belief in themselves and what they can do, no matter what the past looked like, no matter the results (again and again) at the PNC Arena.
Both teams believe they will play Wednesday at the start of the Conference Finals. Only one team will be right.
“We know what a good team we have,” said the Rangers striker Frank Vatrano said. “We know how important tomorrow’s game is. As ‘Copper’ said, whoever is going to play the perfect game and make fewer mistakes is going to win. To be the underdog or to be the favourite, for us, anything said outside the room doesn’t matter.
“For us, it’s knowing how good we are and knowing that we trust each other and knowing that we’re going to get the job done. You cannot watch past games that we have played at this rink. I just have to watch the one tomorrow.”