-- The Carolina Hurricanes
saw that it does not pay to rile up these top-seeded Bruins.
Montreal's four-game demise at the hands of the Bruins came after forward Georges Laraque
agitated the hornet's nest with some inflammatory comments before the start of the series. Don't think these Hurricanes didn't take notice.
Friday morning, eight hours before the Hurricanes start a best-of-7 Eastern Conference Semifinal showdown against Boston here at TD Banknorth Garden (7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RID), the Hurricanes were keeping it low-key, making sure the Bruins got props for being the top seed left in the playoffs. Not only that, but Boston won all four regular-season matches between these two teams in convincing fashion.
"We are the underdogs," coach Paul Maurice
said. "Boston has been dominant all season."
But Maurice has no problem being the underdog. After all, the Hurricanes were the underdog last round before knocking of New Jersey in seven games.
"We do like that (underdog) role," Maurice said. "I think, emotionally, once you get out of that first round, there are only seven other teams with you. There's an excitement and a lot of the fear falls away."
That is certainly the message that Rod Brind'Amour
was spreading to his team Friday morning, acknowledging that Boston's status as the top seed in the Eastern Conference is not a fluke.
"Up and down their lineup, they have some pretty good players," Brind'Amour said. "There is no drop-off anywhere and they have a great goalie (Tim Thomas
) that has been covering up when they make a mistake and their special teams have been great. Really there is no weakness; their record is for real and there is a reason why they have been so good all year."
And Boston has been especially good against the Canes. Yet, Brind'Amour says this far into the postseason, regular-season results mean nothing.
In other news, Maurice hinted that he will be quicker to change his lines this series if the team struggles offensively. Against New Jersey, he put together a line that featured Ray Whitney
, Chad LaRose
and Eric Staal
. It dominated a season-saving Game 6 and then Staal scored the winner in Game 7.
For Maurice, it was a lesson learned that perhaps he has to be quicker to pull the trigger to find chemistry when his team struggles.
"We'll move some people around and we won't wait as long if we're not getting offense in this series," Maurice said. "They're more balanced; they will check with their defense and run their lines more evenly. That will give us an opportunity to move some guys around on the other lines."