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Weight weighs in on the 2011 playoffs

by Brian Hunter
Doug Weight has participated in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 12 of the 19 seasons he's played in the NHL, and although he's never been part of a team that came back from a 3-0 series deficit to win, as the Chicago Blackhawks will bid to accomplish in Game 7 against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday (10 p.m. ET, Versus, CBC, RDS), his Carolina Hurricanes wouldn't have won the Stanley Cup in 2006 without an impressive rally of their own right off the bat.

After setting franchise records with 52 wins and 112 points during the regular season, Weight and the second-seeded Hurricanes lost their first two playoff games on home ice to the Montreal Canadiens. They trailed 1-0 in Game 3 in Montreal heading to the third period but went on to win in overtime and beat the Canadiens in six games. Series wins over New Jersey, Buffalo and Edmonton followed on the championship run.

"That 2-0 (deficit) was tough, it was tough to swallow," Weight told during a stop through the League's Manhattan headquarters on Tuesday. "As good as we were and as much as we felt like we had ahead of us, a long run, to go down two in your own building was very depleting. But in hindsight, it had a lot to do with what we were able to achieve.

"And what you have in the playoffs is, when people get past rounds and get past those adverse conditions, they learn how to get by it and when you succeed coming out of that, it makes you that much tougher in the next round, and so forth. And I think that's what makes the Finals the best in the world -- you have two teams that have gotten through three series that have had roller-coaster rides, ups and downs, injuries, elimination games, and they've fought through those and they both learn how to win, and that's what our team did."

While the Blackhawks' comeback, if completed, would be the most impressive, they aren't the only team on the verge of overcoming adversity to move on. Also on Tuesday night the Boston Bruins visit the Montreal Canadiens looking to do exactly what the '06 Hurricanes did -- win four straight after losing the first two games on home ice to Montreal. Then, on Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Lightning attempt to finish off a rally from a 3-1 deficit against the host Pittsburgh Penguins.

The 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs have been must-see TV to this point. Weight, who's been doing some broadcast work and taking notes, said that what he's witnessed has been "pretty incredible."

"The striking thing to me is once you get a series going, we saw Pittsburgh take that lead and I kind of wrote something down that night talking about how they've got an aura around them and they're outmatching them and outcoaching them, and then all of a sudden, the next day, it's always the opposite that comes out," he said.

"The Vancouver series, the same thing. You see it trending one way -- even San Jose, I know they closed it out (against Los Angeles), but I don't think anyone in the hockey world would have thought, Anze Kopitar's not in the lineup and it's not going well, they're not getting scoring, they're not going to go into San Jose and beat that machine, they've been rolling, and all of a sudden they take a 3-0 lead and force Game 6.

"It's really been that paired with maybe this home-ice disadvantage we've been seeing more than usual. I mean, it is traditionally a little easier to start a series on the road, just the pressure and for some reason you can play that playoff-type ugly hockey early in a series. But to be hovering around 39 percent, I think, is the winning percentage (of home teams) -- that's been a surprise, but it's been great hockey."

What's also been exciting for Weight to see are players 40 and older continuing to have key roles on postseason teams. Although the Anaheim Ducks were ousted, Teemu Selanne led all scorers entering Tuesday's action with 6 goals, while Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom and Boston Bruins forward Mark Recchi, a teammate of Weight's on that '06 championship squad in Carolina, also continue to excel.

"I want to know how they stay so darn healthy," said Weight, who turned 40 in January and was limited to 18 games for the New York Islanders this season due to recurring back spasms.

"Nicklas is an amazing player and it seems like he's a mirror image of Steve (Yzerman) when Steve played. Every year he'd get older and they'd say he'd lose a step but he'd get smarter and somehow find a way to get those big goals and lead his team. Lidstrom had a great year this year. I think he's probably the favorite for the Norris. And Teemu relies on speed and energy, and that's an amazing thing to rely on at the age of 41, but he looked phenomenal in the playoffs and I hope he decides to keep playing.

"Even Recchi and the guys who are in the playoffs, they look great. I know what type of year this is, it's a long year. And this time of the year is the most physical, but it's probably the easiest to play, to be honest with you. You're motivated, you're getting your rest when you need it, the coaches realize it, and there's not those dog days. Every day is that next game of the series and you get that adrenaline, so these guys are loving this time of year, for sure."
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