RALEIGH, N.C. -- One of the surprises of this series from the Carolina perspective is the shrinking ice time of captain Rod Brind'Amour as the Hurricanes have won the last two games.
In Game 3's 3-2 overtime win, Brind'Amour played just 12:17 while centering the fourth line with left wing Ryan Bayda and right wing Patrick Eaves. In Game 2's 3-0 win, he played just 11:15. He has averaged 17:07 in the playoffs and has no points in 10 games, but has an even rating.
What about Friday night's Game 4? (7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RIS) That will depend on the state of the game since the two-time Selke Award winner has contributed in other ways. The league leader in faceoff percentage during the regular season, Brind'Amour won 70 percent of his faceoffs in Game 3.
Known as one of the game's consummate captains, Brind'Amour said the only way in which the decrease fazes him is in wanting to play better.
"We're winning," he said. "Especially at this point, it's all about winning. We won the game (Wednesday) and I was thrilled. There's nothing like winning and losing stinks. I'd much rather play 10 minutes and win than play more and lose. Obviously I'd like to play better, but if this is how we have to go about it, that's fine."
Coach Paul Maurice thinks the dip should be temporary.
"You can't look at goals and assists," Maurice said of Brind'Amour's contributions to the team. "He's on the ice in Game 7 versus New Jersey at the end. I believe hopefully we'll play a lot longer and he'll get back up in minutes.
"You can't tell in the locker room by his demeanor. There're lots of guys who say they're OK with it. He means it."
Matching up with Boston -- So much has been made in this series of Boston's trying to match defenseman Zdeno Chara against Hurricanes center Eric Staal, but the same is true of Carolina's strategy with defenseman Joni Pitkanen and Joe Corvo against Boston's top line of Marc Savard, Milan Lucic and Phil Kessel.
Curiously, Pitkanen and Corvo play on different pairs but they are by far the Hurricanes' respective leaders in ice time. Pitkanen in particular is earning the lion's share of the minutes, as he has averaged a monstrous 28:17 the last two games, up 3:29 over his regular season average.
Hurricanes assistant coach Tom Rowe, who played 357 games in the NHL as a right wing and once served as assistant general manager of the Hartford Whalers, handles the defensive changes. Rowe is in his first year with the Hurricanes after serving for the previous four as coach and general manager of the Canes' American Hockey League affiliate in Albany and Lowell.
"He gets the feel for which one of us is playing well and it's the group he thinks is playing the best or getting the most done," said Corvo who played a team-high 25:32 in Game 1.