Penguins-Hurricanes: Eastern Conference Finals Preview

WoooooSenior Writer IMay 18, 2009

PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 23: Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates with the puck as Patrick Eaves #44 and Joni Pitkanen #25 of the Carolina Hurricanes defend on October 23, 2008 at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

The Eastern Conference Finals are set to kick off on Monday night when the Carolina Hurricanes take the ice at the Mellon Arena to square off against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Needless to say, but if you want to hear about it, just ask any Caniac and they will tell you...the Canes are the underdogs coming into this series.

They were the underdogs against the Devils and Bruins in the last two rounds.

They've played the underdog card more times than Janet Gretzky hit on a 15 at the Blackjack tables.


In case you haven't heard, Jordan Staal has a brother, and he plays for the Carolina Hurricanes.

They hype surrounding the Eric vs. Jordan Staal Brother matchup is quickly becoming one of the most overused topics on every sports website on the web.

No one knows for sure how Dan Bylsma will opt to roll his lines, but if the Staals are on the ice at the same time, you will hear about it.

And by the end of Game One, you will be tired of hearing about it.

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So, as Penguin fans, what can we find to dislike about the Hurricanes?

They did knock off the hated Atlantic Division rival New Jersey Devils and their dad/uncle goaltender in the first round.


Then they did away with the top seeded Boston Bruins in the East Semifinals in dramatic fashion.


Recently, Canes forward Scott Walker announced publicly that his wife is battling cancer. No matter who you are, or who you root for, cancer is something that affects or has affected everyone in the world in one way or another.

From the Pittsburgh Penguins' community and the city of Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas, our deepest sympathies go out to Scott and his family during this time of hardship.

Weren't we trying to find ways to dislike the Canes?

Well, they are based in a Southern market where ice is about as common as an empty pantry at the Bruce Boudreau residence.

They do have some savvy veterans on their roster that have been around the block before and know what it takes to win...and lose in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Rod the Bod Brind'Amour wins face offs.

If someone is trying to tell you his value goes beyond the face off circle, tell them to shut up.

Sure, he is probably a great guy to have around the locker room, but on the ice, he should be a non factor.

Tuomo Ruutu, Matt Cullen, Eric Staal, and Jussi Jokinen make up the bulk of the Canes' offensive threat.

Cam Ward has blossomed into one of the hottest goaltenders in the National Hockey League since the All-Star break, and this series, like many others, will probably come down to whichever goaltender is playing at the top of his game with the greatest regularity.

By now, people know what Marc-Andre Fleury is capable of.

Say what you want about momentum and the ebb and flow of a playoff season. Each round in the Stanley Cup playoffs starts with a clean slate.

Momentum is established in Game One—not in Game Seven of the previous round. That's just the way it goes.

So don't be fooled by Caniacs claiming that they have everything going for them because they are coming off of such a dramatic win against a team that nobody was giving them a chance to beat.

That's old news.

This series, and everything that goes along with it, begins on Monday night.

The fact that Sidney Crosby has put on an epic performance thus far in the postseason is irrelevant beginning at 7:40 PM on Monday night when the puck is dropped for Game One.

The VERSUS crew will try to dazzle you with predictions and "(Team Name) will win if," but none of that really matters.

All that matters is the race to four...again.

Four wins gets you to the Finals, where it all starts anew.

It's important to keep a level head between series in the playoffs, but it's also important to never underestimate the opposition.

That being said, if someone would have told you the Pens would be facing the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals this past March, you would have laughed.

First because you would have told that person that the Canes would never make it out of the first round alive.

Second because you probably didn't think the Penguins would even make the playoffs.

An Eastern Conference Finals matchup against the Carolina Hurricanes looks like quite a blessing for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Looks can be deceiving.

If you're expecting the Pens to come out and run over the Canes, sweeping the series in four games and resting up for the Finals, you have no idea what's going on.

Could it happen?


Will it happen?

Most likely not.

Your gut tells you that there is no way that the Canes can beat the Pens in a best-of-seven game series.

Cam Ward tells you they can.

Like I said earlier, keep a level head, hang on for the ride, and remember...Hurricanes don't blow...they suck. Whooooooooooooooo.

Let's Go Pens.