What you need to know about the Carolina Hurricanes
They boasted unique postgame celebrations at home this year and feature a familiar face in defenseman Dougie Hamilton.
All that’s standing between the Bruins and a trip to the Stanley Cup Final is a bunch of jerks.
OK. That label seems a little harsh, but it was given to the Hurricanes by veteran broadcaster Don Cherry, who took exception to Carolina’s postgame, on-ice victory celebrations at home.
“This is the National Hockey League. These guys, to me, are jerks,’’ said Cherry. “They’re still not drawing [fans]. I’ll tell you one thing, they better not do this in the playoffs,’’ he said. “That is absolutely ridiculous. I know all the broadcasters are afraid to say something . . . I know what I’m talking about. You never do anything like that. They’re still not drawing. They’re still a bunch of jerks, as far as I’m concerned.’’
Cherry seemed to be the only one bothered by the “Storm Surge’’ demonstrations, which took place at home, after the opposing team had already left the ice.
It began simple enough, with the team gathering at center ice after a home victory and leading the crowd in a slow clap. They soon became more elaborate. One stunt featured the team getting bowled over by a helmet, another involved a basketball being dunked. The wins, and celebrations, continued to pile up as Carolina qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
The Hurricanes embraced Cherry’s criticism, even printing up shirts. Alas, the team decided to limit the celebrations to the regular season. Maybe they just ran out of ideas. They would have needed at least eight more, as they defeated the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals in seven games, then swept the New York Islanders in the second round to reach the conference finals.
How they fared this season
The Bruins won two of the three meetings this season.
In the first meeting of the season on Oct. 30, Brad Marchand had a pair of goals, including the game-winner, as the Bruins won on the road, 3-2.
The lone win for Carolina came just before Christmas. The Bruins led, 2-0, on a pair of goals from Ryan Donato, but the Hurricanes rallied on a pair of shorthanded goals to outscore the Bruins, 5-1, the rest of the way for a 5-3 win.
The Bruins won the rubber match on March 5 on David Krejci’s overtime goal to send Carolina, sporting throwback green Hartford Whalers uniforms, to a 4-3 defeat.
The man behind the bench
Rod Brind’Amour is in his first season as head coach after spending the previous seven years as an assistant in the organization. He played 21 seasons in the NHL, including the final 10 with the Hurricanes before retiring in 2010. He finished his playing career with 452 goals and 732 assists and won a Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006.
Who’s in goal?
Goalies Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney essentially split up the duties during the regular season, with Mrazek posting a 23-14-3 record with a .914 save percentage in 40 starts, while McElhinney, 35, was 20-11-2 in 33 starts with a .912 save percentage.
Mrazek started the first nine games of the playoffs, including all seven of the first-round win over the Capitals. After Mrazek sustained a lower-body injury and was unable to finish Game 2 of the second round, McElhinney answered the call, getting the last three wins to close out the Islanders with a .947 save percentage.
Curtis McElhinney this is a seeeeeerious skate save pic.twitter.com/L9Ngd2xc2m
— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) May 2, 2019
Mrazek has been back practicing with the team, leaving Brind’Amour with a tough decision.
Players to watch
Sebastian Aho: In his third season with the Hurricanes, Aho, 21, had a career year, leading the team with 30 goals and 53 assists. He followed that up with four goals and five assists in 11 playoff games.
Teuvo Teravainen: Teravainen is Aho’s linemate and was the second leading scorer with 21 goals and 55 assists.
Micheal Ferland: The 6-foot-2, 208-pound forward tallied 17 goals to go with 23 assists in 71 games, but he’s missed the last eight playoff games with an upper body injury. He is targeting a return for Game 1 of the conference finals.
Justin Williams: The veteran forward, 37, was third on the team in scoring with 23 goals and 30 assists.
Jordan Staal: A concussion limited Staal to just 50 games during the regular season, but he was able to return to the lineup in late February and finish strong. That has carried over into the playoffs, where Staal has four goals and five assists in 11 games.
Dougie Hamilton: Taken with the ninth pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, Bruins fans were hoping Hamilton would become a No. 1 franchise defenseman and take some of the burden off Zdeno Chara. But after Hamilton rejected the team’s contract offer as he headed to restricted free agency, the Bruins shipped him to the Calgary Flames after the 2014-15 season ahead of the NHL Draft for a first-round pick and two second-rounders.
The Bruins selected Zach Senyshyn, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, and Jeremy Lauzon with the picks acquired in the trade, while Hamilton signed a six-year, $34.5 million deal with the Flames. Hamilton never really blossomed into a franchise defenseman while in Calgary, and was traded to the Hurricanes last summer.
He caught some flak in Carolina’s first-round win over the Capitals when he pulled up and gave up on retrieving the puck rather than take a hit from Alex Ovechkin. But he came out on the right end of a playoffs moment after the Hurricanes swept the Islanders in the second round.
In Game 3 of the series, the Islanders’ Brock Nelson celebrated a goal from teammate Josh Bailey by patting McElhinney on the head as he skated through the crease. It was a move that stuck with Hamilton, apparently. After Carolina completed a sweep of the Islanders, Hamilton made sure to return the favor, patting Nelson on the top of the head as he passed him in the handshake line.
Trevor van Riemsdyk: Just as his older brother James did before him, van Riemsdyk played at University of New Hampshire and helped the Wildcats reach the NCAA Tournament in 2013.
Patrick Brown: The forward played for Boston College from 2010-2014. His father Doug and uncle Greg also played at BC before going on to the NHL. He is a cousin to actresses Kate and Rooney Mara.