BOSTON — When it comes to how a long layoff after a short playoff series affects a team, the Boston Bruins can take a mixed lesson from the exploits of the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes, who went on to win the Stanley Cup.
That spring, the Hurricanes — who visit TD Banknorth Garden tonight for Game 1 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series — downed New Jersey in five games in the second round and didn’t get back into action for six days before opening their conference finals series with Buffalo. The ‘Canes lost the first game, but won the series in seven.
This group of ‘Canes will be looking to take advantage of any weakness the Bruins show in the first few minutes of their first game in nine days.
“I remember in ’06, we beat the Devils in five and we had, I think, a week off as well. That’s not easy to do, coming into the next series and to play a team that’s been playing a lot of hockey,” Carolina star center Eric Staal said during his team’s media availability this morning. “And we need to take advantage of that. Not to say it’s going to be easy for us. We need to make sure that we’re working and have our skating legs and hopefully get on the attack on them early in the game and get on them.”
Captain Rod Brind’Amour isn’t so sure the layoff did much to slow the Bruins.
“I think you want to win in four if you can. Obviously less wear and tear is probably a good thing for them,” said the center. “But I think I like the fact that we’re in the playoff mode and we’ve got a rhythm going and hopefully we’ll continue that.”
If the ‘Canes need any extra motivation to get a jump on the Bruins, they can use their underdog status. Not many people are giving Carolina a chance in this series, especially considering the way the Hurricanes stumbled for most of the regular season before getting hot in March and April.
“There’s no secret about that,” goaltender Cam Ward said about being the underdog. “You know, you look at the season, they were consistent all season long. And you look at us, we’ve gotten better as the season progressed. And I like to think that we’re peaking at the right time and playing some good hockey.”