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Battle-scarred Brind'Amour sums up team's desire

by Shawn P. Roarke /
PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- If the Pittsburgh Penguins want to know what they are in for against the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final, all they need to do is sneak a peek at the face of Carolina captain Rod Brind'Amour.

Brind'Amour was blindsided by a puck while sitting on the bench during the overtime period of Thursday's Game 7 against the Boston Bruins. The puck struck Brind'Amour above the right eye, sending him to the dressing room for repairs, which included several stitches.

He was still being stitched up when Scott Walker scored the goal in overtime that sent the Hurricanes into this series against the Penguins, a best-of-7 showdown that will determine the Eastern Conference's representative in the Stanley Cup Final.

Game 1 is Monday night (7:30 p.m. ET, Versus, TSN, RDS) at Mellon Arena.

And Brind'Amour will be there on the ice, the area around his right eye still slightly swollen and an interesting mixture of purple, yellow and even the occasional tinge of green.

"As far as the face, I was never one of the prettiest guys in the League," Brind'Amour said at Sunday's availability at the Omni William Penn Hotel. "So it's more war wounds and more character, I guess."

And that, in a nutshell, is what these 2009 Hurricanes are about. They are a simple team -- there are no superstars that demand the spotlight -- but they are full of character, just like their captain.

"That was tough to see," alternate captain Eric Staal said. "It's one of those plays you don't want to happen to any player; but if it is going to happen to somebody, it's probably him because he is one of the toughest players in our room."

If the game had gone to a second OT, Brind'Amour likely would have returned. He wanted to return immediately, but the repairs took longer than he hoped.

"It was frustrating," Brind'Amour said. "Obviously, you want to play -- everyone wants to play at that point. Doubly, I felt like the second (Boston) goal was my fault; so I wanted to get back out there and make a difference. But, thankfully, 'Walks' pulled it out for us and we don't have to worry about that."

Plus, Brind'Amour had already made his contribution in that Game 7. Held without a point for the first 13 games of the 2009 postseason, Brind'Amour scored a first-period goal -- just as a penalty was expiring -- to tie the game at 1-1 in what turned out to be a 3-2 victory.  It was a goal that got Carolina going after a rough start.

On the goal, Brind'Amour stationed himself between the towering Zdeno Chara and the hard-as-nails Aaron Ward and was in perfect position to deflect a Dennis Seidenberg slap shot past Boston goalie Tim Thomas

Those are the kind of big-game contributions -- the big goal, the key faceoff win, the must-have penalty kill -- that the Hurricanes expect from their 38-year-old captain, a man that has been through the playoff wars for the past two decades.

"He had a big game, scored a huge goal for our team," Staal said. "He got us back into it on the power play.

"We're going to need him in this round for sure."
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