In Game 6 – The North State Journal, Hurricanes attempt to take out Bruins

Hurricanes forward Martin Necas runs with the puck and will be challenged by Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo in Game 5 in Raleigh on Tuesday. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

BOSTON — The first five games of the first-round playoff series between the Bruins and the Hurricanes were won by the home team. But Thursday’s game in Boston will feel different: the Bruins are on the verge of being eliminated and there are rumors that captain Patrice Bergeron could hang up his skates after this season.

So not only have the Bruins gotten the best of the Hurricanes in Boston this series, they’ll play with the desperation of a team that doesn’t want to see their season –– and perhaps their captain’s career — finish.

1. A new offseason addition to the Hurricanes roster knows the playoff grind all too well.

Defenseman Ian Cole has won two Stanley Cups and played in 101 career playoff games, and he called Thursday’s Game 6 a “must-win.”

“In my opinion, Game 7s are usually a bit like a coin toss,” he said after his morning skate. “So we will try to avoid that at all costs. We’re going to try to win tonight, an absolute must-win and we’ve got to reach that level of desperation.”

He was part of four games where his team had a chance to eliminate his opponent in a game 6 and Cole’s teams are tied 3-1 in those games. The only loss to Ottawa while he was with Pittsburgh in 2017 was avenged in Game 7.

2. Martin Necas did score against New Jersey on April 28 in the regular-season final, but that was his only goal in his last 21 games. He has two points in the streak, a secondary assist in Game 1 and an assist on an open goal in Game 5.

“We definitely expect more,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said when asked about Necas’ performance in five playoff games. “He’s doing well but we need to get more out of him if we want to progress. We need everyone to do their best. You won’t beat this team if you don’t get everyone working. So he was okay, but I think there’s another level he can go to.”

Necas wouldn’t be the first player to feel the pressure of an ongoing contract negotiation, especially one where the sides are likely to be far apart. Certainly, Necas and his agent want to reflect the season he played in the AHL with Charlotte in his new contract – the 23-year-old essentially played four years on his three-season entry-level deal.

For now, the focus has to be on Game 6.

“Everyone has their role on the team,” Necas said, “and if you can help on offense or defense or block a shot or kill the PK, play along. … Everyone has to do those little things that help the team win. “

The “little thing” Necas should do is get on the scorer chart, but points were hard to come by.

“Of course I would like to be there,” said Necas. “Let’s see tonight.”

3. Hurricanes are nearing full health. Brind’Amour on Wednesday said goalkeeper Frederik Andersen was still going in the right direction and Jordan Martinook participated in the morning skate six days after his elimination from Game 3.

Martinook wasn’t part of the line rushes and was good on the ice after his teammates finished Thursday at TD Garden, meaning he’ll likely be a scratch again for Game 6.

“I haven’t spoken to him since he got off the ice, but he’s getting close,” Brind’Amour said of Martinook.

The fourth line has yet to score a point in the series. Necas and Max Domi – who have both seen time on the line in the series – have two points in five games but both got them playing from the fourth line.

Martinook, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Derek Stepan all went without a point, and this trio has only 10 shots on goal in about 104 minutes of combined ice time. The Bruins’ fourth-liners also failed to produce, but a goal from deep players on either team could make a big difference in Game 6.

4. Brind’Amour said the hardest part of his job was finding new ways to deliver his never-ending message of hard work.

“If you’re not consistent, your boys will go anywhere,” he said. “But if you keep saying the same thing, it goes in one ear and out the other. That’s the hardest part of the job for me, just trying to stay consistent in your message but trying to make it fresh.

“I also do that in the afternoon (before the games), trying to figure out how to do that. But at the end of the day, the guys know what they’re doing. And that’s why consistency is so important.”

5. It looks like the Bruins will bring Hampus Lindholm back for Game 6. He was knocked out of Game 2 with a huge check from Andrei Svechnikov, but eight days later he seems ready.

Lindholm told the Boston Globe’s Matt Porter he had no problem with the Svechnikov hit, saying, “It’s the playoffs.”

Lindholm and McAvoy will reunite in the top pair – they started the series together but were separated for Game 2. Matt Grzelcyk, who was the target of a Svechnikov bodycheck that led to Carolina’s first goal in Game 5, will come off the lineup. Mike Reilly is sticking with it.

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy won’t start the night with the Perfection Line together, opting to have Jake DeBrusk with Bergeron and Brad Marchand while David Pastrnak plays with Erik Haula and Taylor Hall.

Don’t be surprised if Pastrnak rejoins his running mates when the need arises.

About Mike Crayton

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