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Thursday, June 6
Updated: June 7, 12:17 AM ET
 
Hurricanes must find calm after the storm

By E.J. Hradek
ESPN The Magazine

DETROIT -- During their stunning Stanley Cup playoff run, the Carolina Hurricanes haven't let things bother them much. As a team, they've played with the controlled emotion of veteran club with years of playoff experience.

On Thursday, late in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals, the Hurricanes finally lost their collective cool.

Then, they lost the game.

If they want to win the next game -- or the series and the Cup that goes with it -- they're going to have to return to their all-business approach.

Thursday's mental meltdown began at the 14:00 mark of the third period with the score tied 1-1, when Hurricanes forward Martin Gelinas was whistled for a borderline slashing call on Wings defenseman Mathieu Dandenault. Oddly, it wasn't the penalty that stirred up the Hurricanes; rather, it was something that happened immediately after the call.

Once Gelinas went to the box, the television commercial coordinator, seated in the timekeeper's box, turned on the signal for a TV timeout.

For the record, those revenue-producing TV timouts are supposed to be taken after -- not at -- the 6-, 10- and 14-minute marks of each period. So, because the clock stopped exactly at the 14 minute mark, there should have been no TV timeout.

And Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice knew it.

But, because the networks wouldn't be able to break for a commercial during the Red Wings' power play, the commercial coordinator signaled for the time out.

The roughly 90-second break at that moment was critical because it allowed the Wings a few precious seconds to rest and organize their top power-play unit.

Disgusted, Maurice began yelling at the officials, who explained the situation to the coach as a "mishap in the (timekeeper's) box."

At that point, with the game hanging in the balance, Maurice would have been wise to refocus his energies to the task at hand. Yes, without question, he was right. But, at that point, there was little he could do about it. Instead, the coach continued to bark at the on-ice officials. And, his several members of his team followed his lead and did the same.

After the timeout, the Wings controlled the puck, set up their potent power play and scored the eventual game-winning goal on Nicklas Lidstrom's one-time blast from the top of the right wing circle, which beat Arturs Irbe over the catching glove.

As the Wings' celebrated, the Hurricanes continued to vent their frustration toward the officials.

Then, just 13 seconds after Lidstrom's goal, the Hurricanes -- now, very distracted -- allowed Detroit forward Kris Draper to slip through their usually stingy neutral zone defense and score a back-breaking insurance goal.

As the clock ticked down, the Hurricanes had the look of a rattled team. Several 'Canes got involved in some pushing-and-shoving incidents away from the play. This clearly wasn't the cool, calm, collected 'Canes who impressed everyone with their composure in Game 1.

During this playoff run, Maurice & Co. have displayed the uncanny ability to put each game behind them and move quickly forward to the next tilt.

On Saturday night, against their toughest opponent in this wonderful playoff run, we'll see if the Hurricanes can do that again. And, we'll see if they can regain their much-needed cool as this series begins to get hot.

E.J. Hradek writes hockey for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at ej.hradek@espnmag.com.



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E.J. Hradek Archive

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