Irbe Attempts to Knock Off Red Wing
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DETROIT (AP) _ Arturs Irbe will attempt to do what he once did: Shock the Detroit Red Wings.
Carolina’s goaltender was San Jose’s goalie when the Sharks upset Detroit in seven games in the first round of the 1994 playoffs.
``It was a lot of fun and it was my first playoff experience,″ Irbe said. ``I started on the right foot and Game 7s are always the most-exciting times of the Stanley Cup playoffs. But that was a long time ago and now it’s a different Detroit team and I am playing for a different team too.″
Irbe was 9-4 in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a 1.41 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage. He was spectacular at times, allowing just six goals in six games against Toronto in the conference finals after being benched earlier in the playoffs and replaced by Kevin Weekes.
Once the Red Wings recovered from the early exit against Irbe in ’94, they put together quite a string of success in the playoffs.
In 1995, they lost to New Jersey in the Stanley Cup finals. In 1996, they lost to Colorado in the Western Conference finals before winning consecutive Cups in 1997 and ’98.
FAMILIAR FACES: There’s no shortage of connections between the Red Wings and Hurricanes even beyond those relating to Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch and Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr., who are both the sons of immigrants, self-made millionaires and major players in the revival of downtown Detroit.
Detroit’s Brendan Shanahan played for the Hartford Whalers, who became the Hurricanes, from 1995 when they traded Chris Pronger to St. Louis for him until he was traded to Detroit at the beginning of the 1996-97 season.
Shanahan, who had 16 points during the Western Conference playoffs, scored 79 points in 76 games in Hartford.
``I still know a lot of the guys that are there,″ Shanahan said. ``There’s a lot of the same faces, they haven’t made too many changes. We have a lot of respect for them and the way they’ve played.″
Carolina’s Aaron Ward was with Detroit from 1996 until it traded him in July for a future second-round pick. Ward played at University of Michigan and is a native of Windsor, Ontario, which is just across the Detroit river.
``I expect boos and hisses,″ Ward said before the game. ``We’re Carolina, we’re the adversary. I expect, obviously, support for the Detroit Red Wings and nothing else. Having been gone a year now, I don’t think I’m a factor in any capacity.″
However, Ward admitted that he is motivated to play well against the team that sent him away.
``I’d be a liar if I didn’t say that,″ he said.
Two other Hurricanes played in college in Michigan: Rod Brind’Amour at Michigan State and Bates Battaglia at Lake Superior State.
Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford played for the Red Wings during the 1970-71 season and from 1973-81. Carolina coach Paul Maurice coached the Junior Red Wings, who played at Joe Louis Arena, the Detroit Red Wings’ storied home. Hurricanes assistant Randy Ladouceur played in Detroit from 1982-87 and was the last Red Wing to wear No. 19, which is captain Steve Yzerman’s number. Carolina defenseman Nikos Tselios is a cousin of Detroit’s Chris Chelios.
ONE-TIMERS: The Red Wings, who have won nine Stanley Cups, are in the Stanley Cup finals for the 22nd time while the Hurricanes are making their first appearance in the finals. ... Detroit beat Carolina in both meetings during the season, 5-2 on the road and 4-3 at home.