Rod Brind’Amour has never been fazed by the odd black eye here and there, no matter how grotesque. That isn’t about to change now.
The Hurricanes captain took part in a long practice at the RecZone on Sunday, sporting an unsightly shiner and some stitches around his right eye. After a puck hit him in the face as he was sitting on the bench during overtime of the team’s most recent game, there had been some doubt about whether he would be able to play in Game 1 of the Pittsburgh series. As one may have expected, those doubts were erased rather quickly.
“He got through practice today probably better than we all had hoped, so he said he’s fine and ready to go,” said Coach Paul Maurice.
Of course, hearing that is nothing new. During Brind’Amour’s first season in Carolina, Maurice recalled seeing him play on a broken foot for six weeks before telling anyone that he was hurt.
“It wasn’t that bad, as he would say,” said Maurice, shaking his head. “If he says he’s good, we just take him for his word.”
The injury is a little reminiscent of the high stick he received near the end of the 3-2 loss to Washington on November 6, when Alexander Semin’s follow-through on the game-winning shot hit Brind’Amour across the bridge of his nose. That required some stitches as well, with the wide bruise turning all kinds of black, blue and yellow in the following days. He played nearly 20 minutes the following night against Ottawa, earning the primary assist on Joe Corvo’s game winner with less than three minutes to go.
His ice time has been a good deal less than that lately, but it’s a role the captain has settled in to. Since he moved to the fourth line, a change necessitated more by Jussi Jokinen’s strong play than anything Brind’Amour was doing, he has been hovering around the 12-minute range, with a regular shift on the power play and penalty kill.
“He’s been really good, and I think he’s accepted the fact that some of his minutes are cut back,” said Maurice. “He’s veteran enough to know that he’s still playing on the power play and still killing penalties.”
Since the Penguins’ depth at center is so strong (with Brind’Amour on the fourth line, the Canes ain’t bad either), Maurice expects that the captain will still find himself matched up against some quality players if they choose to double-shift.
“With the way that Pittsburgh runs their bench at times, they drop Crosby, Malkin and Staal to the fourth line, so he’s going to play against some of the best players in the world,” said Maurice. “He understands that.”