Of Hurricanes and other Spooky Things
There are two types of good fortune that can befall an NHL team at playoff time.
First, there's that which blesses a team with an unthinkable run of luck and profitable bounces, like the extraordinary string of overtime wins in the '93 playoffs that lifted Patrick Roy and the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup.
Then there's that which comes when bad stuff happens to the other guy.
The Carolina Hurricanes have had some of both in these playoffs, but it's the bad stuff happening to the other guy that is reaching spooky proportions.
Go back to the first round. The Montreal Canadiens were seemingly in control of the series, beating the Hurricanes in the first two games.
Then an errant Justin Williams stick hits Montreal captain Saku Koivu in the eye. Koivu didn't return, the Habs lost their heart and four straight games.
Jump to the third round. Already missing Dmitri Kalinin and Tim Connolly, the Buffalo Sabres lose defenders one-by-one until they have almost no blueline corps left. The kicker comes before Game 7 when Sabres rearguard Jay McKee falls prey to a mysterious leg infection and can't play, and the Canes end up winning the game and the series.
Now here we are in the Stanley Cup final and, in the very first game Monday night, the Edmonton Oilers have seen their No. 1 goaltender, Dwayne Roloson, go down with a season-ending knee injury.
Koivu. McKee and company. Now Roloson.
The New Jersey Devils, Carolina's second round opponent, can only thank their lucky stars they were dropped in five quick ones before something terrible happened to one of their players.
It's like a mysterious curse from an Egyptian tomb, striking down key opposition players at critical moments.
The Canes, of course, have earned their way to this point, and right now, with Roloson gone, have to be considered solid favorites to win it all.
If that happens, they'll be able to look back and recall that to get to the promised land, others had to experience some untimely hockey misfortune.