Opinion: Hurricanes need to change goalies now if they want to save their season

RALEIGH, N.C. — Coach Rob Brind’Amour hasn’t announced his final decision, but a goalie switch makes sense for the Carolina Hurricanes tonight when they face the Boston Bruins in Game 3 (8 p.m., ET, NBCSN) of the Eastern Conference final.

The Hurricanes should turn to Curtis McElhinney.

It’s not goalie Petr Mrazek’s fault that the Hurricanes trail 2-0 in the best-of-seven series. The Hurricanes have experienced a team-wide struggle. They’ve been unable to find their uptempo, swarming identity. The Bruins have been a much more formidable team.

"I know who we're starting, but I guess you'll have to wait and see," Brind'Amour told reporters Tuesday."

Given the urgency of Hurricanes' situation, the message needs to be that every change will be made to give the team the best chance to climb back into the series.

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Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek (34) reacts after giving up a goal to Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final. (Photo: Greg M. Cooper, USA TODAY Sports)

Coming home to Raleigh should give the Hurricanes a lift, but changing goalies often seems to give the team an added one.

Using McElhinney isn’t a Hail Mary move. In three appearances this postseason, McElhinney has posted a 1.56 goals-against average and .947 save percentage. He performed impressively when he replaced an injured Mrazek against the New York Islanders.

The Hurricanes are comfortable with McElhinney. He was 20-11-2 with a .912 save percentage in the regular season.

This is the new NHL where the goalie breakdown of a “starter and backup” doesn’t really fit what is happening. In today’s game, teams have a “1A” goalie and a “1B” goalie, and the difference between the two isn’t as dramatic as what we used to see with a starter and backup.

Both of the Hurricanes' goalies are set to be free agents this offseason, and re-signing McElhinney will be just as important as keeping Mrazek. The Hurricanes like their goaltending tandem approach. Going with McElhinney in Game 3 fits into that narrative.

After the Hurricanes swept the Islanders, many Islanders fans wondered if Barry Trotz should have switched from Robin Lehner to Thomas Greiss earlier. But he didn’t and we will never know if it would have had an impact.

The Hurricanes should switch to McElhinney so they don't have any regrets. This run has been too impressive to let it end now.

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