- Scott Burnside, NHL
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EDMONTON, Alberta -- Here's a look at our key matchup heading into Saturday's Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals.
CANES' POWER PLAY
There is something somewhat misleading about Carolina's potent power-play attack. Yes, it leads the postseason, working at 25.4 percent efficiency. And the talented Hurricanes have scored nine more times than the Oilers (30-21) with a man advantage throughout the playoffs.
But a closer look reveals the Hurricanes are much more effective at home than on the road, having scored 24 times at the RBC Center, as opposed to just six away from Raleigh.
The commonly held theory going into Game 6 is that the Hurricanes' power play is going to be the key. And it might still be, not because it's so dangerous, but because the team will have to work extra hard to overcome its playoff pattern of being unable to capitalize on the road.
Coach Peter Laviolette admitted Friday he had no explanation for the wide discrepancy in effectiveness between home and away.
"We don't have a road power-play meeting and a home power-play meeting," he said.
Often teams struggle more at home with the man advantage because they're trying to do too much to impress the home crowd, a dynamic the Hurricanes experienced during the regular season. Now, the Canes must find a way to bottle some of that home power-play karma and ice it Saturday in Edmonton to avoid a return to Raleigh for Game 7.
Much has been written about Raffi Torres and his big hits in Game 5, and there is the escalating play of Michael Peca, which has been a big factor in the diminishing effectiveness of Carolina captain Rod Brind'Amour in recent games.
But with the season once again on the line in Game 6, the challenge for Peca, Torres, Ethan Moreau and the rest of the agitating Oilers will be to continue this style of play without veering into penalty trouble that could end the Oilers' season. It is a fine line they have walked with success throughout the postseason. But no other opponent has had the ability to make the Oilers pay like the Hurricanes have.
At their best, these Oilers don't just disrupt the Carolina attack, but create offense out of that chaos. Coach Craig MacTavish likened Peca's play to that of former Oilers great Esa Tikkanen, "in terms of being a very diligent checker and a guy that has been good both ends of the ice and making the opposition pay in the offensive zone," MacTavish said.
"More so than hurting, we just hope that their energy level is getting low," Oilers center Shawn Horcoff said. "We feel like we're getting our legs back now. Our four lines are all skating well."
The Canes will be trying to score on the power play, while the Oilers' pests will be trying to stay out of the box. It's our Game 5 Matchup to Watch.