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Stanley Cup heads to Carolina even

  |   June 7, 2002 at 6:09 PM
RALEIGH, N.C., June 7 (UPI) -- Darren McCarty had a feeling the tight-checking system employed by the Carolina Hurricanes would mean good things for him and long-time linemates Kirk Maltby and Kris Draper in the Stanley Cup Finals.

"There is not a lot of room out there because they play such a great trapping style," McCarty said. "This really benefits us a little bit more, where we can get in there and play the body and grind it around. That's where we are at our best."

Not even McCarty, however, could have envisioned how successful the Detroit Red Wings' "Grind Line" would be in the series, which will resume Saturday with each team having won one game.

On a team with three 600-goal scorers and another 500-goal scorer, McCarty, Maltby and Draper have combined for three goals and two assists through the first two games. Detroit's nine other forwards, a group that includes likely Hall of Famers Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, Sergei Fedorov and Luc Robitaille, have accounted for just a goal and three assists.

"I think that's our strength. As a team, we have four good lines that can score for us," said Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, who set up Draper's clinching goal in the third period of Game 2. "If one line is not clicking well, another line steps up and scores the big goals. That has been our strength throughout the playoffs."

McCarty set the tone in the opening game of the Western Conference finals, scoring three straight goals for the first hat trick of his nine-year career and leading Detroit to a 5-3 victory over the archrival Colorado Avalanche. He came through again in Game 6, netting the insurance goal in a 2-0 triumph that kept the Red Wings alive.

After collecting just five goals and seven assists in 62 games during the season, McCarty has four goals and four assists in 20 playoff games.

Maltby, who has not missed a game all season, shares the league lead with two shorthanded goals in the postseason. He is the only player on either team to score in both games of the Stanley Cup Finals.

And Draper put a charge into his teammates Thursday night when he leaned into a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle late in the third period and gave Detroit an all-but-insurmountable, two-goal lead, just 13 seconds after Lidstrom's power-play tally snapped a 1-1 tie.

"That was a great shot," center Boyd Devereaux said. "The crowd went crazy, the bench went crazy. He works so hard every night, it's nice to see him get rewarded."

That work ethic is what defines the "Grind Line" -- and what gave it its name.

"They play hard, they've got good speed and they're strong," Yzerman said. "They can really wear on a team because Draper and Maltby are really, really quick, so they get into a lot of holes, they get a lot of pressure on you.

"Mac is a pretty intelligent hockey player, not as fluid a skater as those guys

but good skills and plays a hard game. That line can really wear on you. Throughout the years, they have come up big for us in a number of playoff games."

Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman has a habit of tinkering with his line combinations. But McCarty, Maltby and Draper usually have a way of getting back together.

"They are hard to play against," Bowman said. "They bring a lot of ingredients that you want in a line, and they obviously have chemistry. Sometimes you have to spread it out a little bit, but they have been together more in the playoffs than they have been separated."

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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