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Why the Hurricanes can win the Cup

by Brian Compton
Heart. Determination. Goaltending.

Most importantly, prior experience.

Any of the aforementioned reasons could be used to describe why the Carolina Hurricanes' have a legitimate chance to win their second Stanley Cup championship in four seasons.

Not even the lack of home-ice advantage could deter the sixth-seeded Hurricanes from ousting the New Jersey Devils in the opening round of the 2009 postseason. After the teams traded victories for the first five games, Carolina found a way to win back-to-back contests -- including Tuesday night's incredible 4-3, come-from-behind victory in Game 7 at the Prudential Center.

Confidence had much to do with it. While some teams may have been nervous about playing a seventh game on the road, the Hurricanes were a loose bunch from the moment they arrived in New Jersey. And they played like it -- evidenced by Tuomo Ruutu's goal just 62 seconds into the game.

Sure, the Hurricanes trailed by a goal heading into the third period. But Cam Ward -- who won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2006 as the Most Valuable Player of the postseason -- kept his team in the game and stopped all 12 shots he faced in the third period. It allowed the Hurricanes to storm back (no pun intended) in the final 80 seconds, as Jussi Jokinen tied the game with 1:20 to go before Eric Staal completed the remarkable turnaround with just 31.7 seconds left.

"We had nothing to lose coming into this building," Staal said. "It was one of those times where you just lay it all out there and stay with it. It was nice."

"We're a different team than when we played the Boston Bruins in the regular season."
-- Eric Staal

Obviously, it'll be a lot nicer if the 'Canes can find a way to secure 12 more victories this postseason. The journey continues Friday night in Boston, which may pose an ever bigger threat than New Jersey did.

The Bruins took all four meetings from the Hurricanes during the regular season, outscoring Carolina 18-6 along the way. But the 'Canes have added reinforcements since then, including power forward Erik Cole. Clearly, Carolina will be a much more confident bunch this time around.

"We're a different team than when we played the Boston Bruins in the regular season," Staal said. "We're excited about that. We've got a different lineup. I think we found our team identity after we played the Boston Bruins. Hopefully you're going to see a team that's building off this series and be ready to fight to get to the conference finals."

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