Carolina looks to finish off Islanders in Eastern Conference semifinal
RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes haven’t made the playoffs often. When they do, they stick around for a while.
This is just their fourth postseason appearance since 2002, but they reached the Eastern Conference final — at least — in each of their last three appearances and are one victory against the New York Islanders from a fourth.
“I think when you don’t make the playoffs for so long,” coach Rod Brind’Amour quipped Thursday, “you’re probably rested.”
The common denominator in those deep postseason runs has been Brind’Amour, who has climbed nearly every branch of the organization’s tree during almost two decades in Raleigh.
The first Carolina player to hoist the Stanley Cup has the Hurricanes nearly halfway toward doing it again, this time in his rookie season as their coach. Carolina will go for a second-round sweep in Game 4 against the Islanders on Friday night.
“We didn’t have much of an identity at the start (of the season), and over the years, and really, Roddy has demanded that from the start,” veteran forward Jordan Staal said. “Our identity has got to be our work ethic, and all else kind of falls to the side.”
Brind’Amour has been a constant, arriving in 2000 in a trade with Philadelphia and never leaving.
Carolina has won five straight postseason games and seven of eight since losing the first two matchups with Washington in the first round.
Islanders coach Barry Trotz, who graduated less than a decade before Brind’Amour from the same Saskatchewan high school, sees the Hurricanes reflecting their coach on the ice, finding a way to win every game so far in a series that’s been tight despite the 5-2 final in Game 3 on Wednesday night.
Neither team has led by more than one goal at any point in the series until Carolina scored two empty-net goals in the final minute of the last game.
“Everything I’ve heard about Roddy and the people that play with him and the people that worked with him, he’s a genuine, hard-working guy,” Trotz said. “That’s probably our teams. They’re a hard-working team, they get on you, they’re resilient.”