The Carolina Hurricanes are tired of hearing the question, but there’s only way to make it end.
In short, win a road game in the playoffs.
Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour has said the fact the Canes are 7-0 at home and 0-5 away from home in the playoffs is a “nonissue.” He said it again Saturday after the morning skate before Game 6 against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
“I don’t know what else to tell you,” Brind’Amour said. “It’s totally irrelevant going into this game. What’s done is done. We’re starting here fresh and want to win the game.
“If you play your hardest, it is what it is. And I think we’ve played hard on the road.”
A road win in Game 6 would end the second-round series and lift the Canes into the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. A loss would set up a Game 7 with the Rangers on Monday at PNC Arena and some more tense times.
“Honestly, we’ve played better at home and we haven’t played our best on the road,” defenseman Brady Skjei said Saturday. “We haven’t really gotten to our game. We have in spurts, but not a full 60 minutes.”
What needs to change? After all, the Canes were 25-12-4 on the road in the regular season, twice winning at MSG.
“Winning 50-50 puck battles, power plays, penalty kills,” Skjei said. “All that stuff adds up to it. But we’re confident in our game and we believe if we play our style we can win home or away.”
While the Canes are 7-0 at home, the Rangers have tied a franchise record with five consecutive home wins in the playoffs and are 5-1 at MSG.
“The boy are excited,” Canes center Jesperi Kotkaniemi said. “Time to get the first win in the away game.”
Sticking with the lineup
The Canes should not have any lineup changes from Game 5 in Game 6, Brind’Amour said.
Goalie Antti Raanta will make his 10th consecutive start. Rookie forward Seth Jarvis, who was whacked in the mouth by a stick in Game 5, will play. Forward Jordan Martinook should play a second straight game and the scratches again could be Derek Stepan, Steven Lorentz and Ethan Bear.
Goalie Frederik Andersen got in more work Saturday, both before and during the morning skate at MSG. Andersen has not played since his lower-body injury April 16 at Colorado and Brind’Amour has been coy in updating his status.
Brind’Amour was asked Saturday if Andersen had reached the point he could serve as the backup goalie to Raanta in games.
“When he will be, he’ll be there,” Brind’Amour said. “If he’s not in there tonight backing up, then he’s not ready.”
Pyotr Kochetkov is expected to back up Raanta in Game 6. Question: is Andersen or Jack LaFontaine considered the No. 3 goalie?
“Jack is right now,” Brind’Amour said.
That settles that — for now.