Sunday, June 02, 2002

Hurricanes say they won't change for talented Red Wings



By DAVID DROSCHAK
AP Sports Writer

        RALEIGH, N.C. — There are no compromises with what has become known as The System for the Carolina Hurricanes — even against a team with the star power of the Detroit Red Wings.

        Carolina plans to open the Stanley Cup finals Tuesday night with the same defensive, trapping style that frustrated New Jersey, Montreal and Toronto en route to the franchise's Eastern Conference championship.

        The Hurricanes allowed just 29 goals in 18 playoff games and aren't too concerned they'll now be facing eight future Hall of Famers and a team that crushed the defending Cup champion Colorado Avalanche 7-0 Friday night to win the Western crown.

        “Changing now would be a guarantee of failure,” coach Paul Maurice said. “Those things are ingrained now with us. The system is not the key, it's the quickness and the execution.”

        With that in mind, Maurice geared things up Saturday as the team practiced full-speed breakouts and defensive positioning on the rush.

        “We're trying to get our pace up high as we can,” Maurice said. “We really focused on quickness after the Olympic break and we're looking at these five or six days of practice in the same manner to get back to doing things as quick as we can.”

        The one-hour session also was intense. At one point, Jeff O'Neill and David Tanabe almost came to blows along the boards, the two teammates pushing and shoving after a check.

        O'Neill dismissed the incident after practice. Maurice just smiled as Tanabe, injured with a broken wrist since Game 1 of the New Jersey opening-round series, is trying to get back into the lineup.

        “He just about got into a fight today, which was nice,” Maurice said of his second-year defenseman. “His level is getting up there.”

        The Red Wings, led by such stars as Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull and Sergei Fedorov, have scored twice as many goals (58) in the playoffs as the Hurricanes have allowed.

        But captain Ron Francis said Carolina can't get caught up worrying about Detroit's offensive prowess.

        “Our focus has to be on ourselves and our system and playing that as well as we can and making as few mistakes as we can. That's our biggest challenge, sticking with our game plan,” Francis said.

        But will the system Carolina used so far in the playoffs work against the Red Wings?

        “We'll find out shortly,” Francis said. “They've been watching game tape of our system and are trying to figure out ways that they can attack it or beat it. That's what makes these series so interesting. We're going to go into Game 1 playing our system and we'll see if it works. If not, we'll make some minor adjustments, but it's not going to be a traumatic about-face.

        “There are more than 25 teams that aren't playing now, so our system has done something right. It's a system we're played all year and it's a system we believe in.”

        While Carolina has a rigid system its focuses on, so does Detroit, Maurice said.

        “They are the best team in the NHL and they play a different game than just about anybody else,” he said. “They play a puck possession game. The hidden monster is how strong they are defensively, how committed they are. There are no odd-man rushes. You don't see a lot off the attack against this team.

        “They have enough talent to sit there and say, "We can wait, we have enough shooters, you'll get a little frustrated, you'll open your game up and we've got enough guys who can hurt you.”'

        So far in the postseason, Maurice's club has resisted the temptation to run-and-gun offensively.

        “There is an advantage to them being built the way they are, but there is an advantage to us, too,” Maurice said. “We're young and hungry and quick and we're going to play as hard as we possibly can in this series. That has been our game.”

       



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