Underdog Hurricanes don't lack confidence vs. Detroit
Monday, June 3, 2002
DETROIT -- The nine Stanley Cup championship banners that hang in Joe Louis Arena don't represent all the history the Carolina Hurricanes are up against in facing the Detroit Red Wings.
Featuring at least a half-dozen players bound for the Hall of Fame, and a coach who's already there, Detroit has been favored all season to capture the Cup for the first time since 1998.
The Hurricanes, in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time, haven't won in Detroit since the 1989-90 season, when they were the Hartford Whalers. The Red Wings have won five straight over Carolina at home and are 16-3-0-1 against the Hurricanes the past 10 years.
The best-of-seven series opens in Detroit on Tuesday night.
"Luckily for us it's 0-0 right now and that's how we're approaching it," said Carolina's Arturs Irbe, who was San Jose's goalie in 1994 when the Sharks upset the heavily favored Red Wings in the opening round of the playoffs.
Yet the Red Wings don't expect to win in a walk -- not with the overachieving Hurricanes standing in their way.
"Carolina's done a lot of good things to put themselves in this position," Detroit's Kris Draper said after Sunday's practice. "You're not lucky to win a playoff series. And that's what they've done in the East."
The Red Wings clinched the Cup in the minds of many when they eliminated defending champion Colorado in the Western Conference finals -- winning Game 7 on Friday 7-0.
"I don't think what you did before has any bearing on what you're going to do," Detroit coach Scotty Bowman said, noting that Carolina has won five consecutive road playoff games.
Each team has played 18 games this postseason. Detroit has outscored Carolina 58-40, but the Hurricanes have given up just 29 goals thanks to a trapping defense and Irbe.
"They have a lot of elements we're going to have to take care of ... their disciplined team game, and their patience," Detroit's Boyd Devereaux said. "You can tell that by their record in overtime."
Carolina reached its first finals by eliminating New Jersey, Montreal and Toronto, each in six games. The Hurricanes beat the Devils twice in overtime, the Canadiens once and the Maple Leafs three times.
"We probably worked the underdog angle in the first three series when we didn't particularly feel that we were," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "This one, we don't have a choice on. We're getting that label no matter whether we like it or not, and rightfully so. We understand what we're going up against.
"But it hasn't really changed the mood in the room. The players are very focused and very excited."
The finals give veteran Detroit stars Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, Sergei Fedorov, Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios and Brett Hull a chance to claim another championship.
Goalie Dominik Hasek and winger Luc Robitaille, acquired along with Hull in the offseason in owner Mike Ilitch's all-out Stanley Cup spending spree, are hoping to win their first titles.
"You can't rely just on experience," Lidstrom said. "You also have to come out with heart."
Asked how the Wings should respond to the predictions of an easy victory, Fedorov said: "Don't listen to people."