RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The Hurricanes said all the right things ahead of Game 4: We're still full of fight, the last game will be the hardest for the Bruins to win, etc.
Once the game started though, it was clear they had been solved. The Bruins had a game plan for which the Canes had no countermove. There was no crazed pressure to start, no flurry of chances by the home team. It was clear--despite Curtis McElhinney's best first period efforts--that once the Boston power play struck in the second, the game was effectively over.
Carolina was fed its own medicine. Minutes on end they'd go without a shot at all, and then on the rare occasion they had a chance, it was snuffed out. When it was still scoreless, Justin Williams had a point blank look from the slot only to have Tuukka Rask snare his wrist shot almost comically casually. It was that kind of night, that kind of series.
There's some satisfaction in knowing you legitimately met a better team. No controversy, nothing robbed from you, just the reality of the game. Boston's a more experienced, more talented (in the now) group and had a hot goalie to boot. The Canes weren't clambering over that mountain this year.
The disappointment is real, but it's dimmed by the promise of this team. What a remarkable turnaround season within a season. The Canes didn't just erase a decade of futility, they overcame three months of it to start the season. This was a collection of players that trusted and believed in each other and on top of that, believed in their coach. They knew he was leading them in the right direction.
Think of the possibilities. Just go down the list: Aho, Slavin, Svechnikov, Teravainen, Staal, Pesce and on and on. This team is built and locked down it would seem for years of success. These are young players still coming into their own. As good as they are, they will get better.
You'd hope that Tom Dundon sees what his franchise accomplished and spends the money to take it even higher. While this year's Canes looked a sapling to Boston's oak tree, that won't last for long.
Carolina Hurricanes surprise success ends with disheartening sweep in Eastern Conference Finals