The conference finals are upon us (pending game 7 tonight between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers) and there will be several players on the ice in those finals that will look very familiar to Caniacs. There will be at a minimum four former Carolina Hurricanes in the conference finals and five if the Capitals win game 7 tonight (the fifth being Keith Aucoin). Justin Williams has had a solid playoff so far for the upset-minded Los Angeles Kings, ranking fourth in scoring with seven points in nine games. Alexei Ponikarovsky had a huge overtime game winner in game three against the Flyers. Ray Whitney has six points in eleven games played for the Coyotes, including a overtime game winner in game one of the semi-finals agains the Predators. Radim Vrbata has four points in the same eleven games. Keith Aucoin has played a solid fourth-line role for the Capitals while registering two points in thirteen games.
You can see the video of Whitney’s overtime winner below:
And not to be outdone, Alexei Ponikarovsky’s OT winner in game three:
Can’t forget to include one from Justin Williams, either…
Finally, Radim Vrbata scoring the series first goal between the Coyotes and the Predators…
Two of the players on the Hurricanes Stanley Cup team in 2006 will meet in the Western Conference Finals (Whitney, Williams). As many Caniacs remember, both players had very big roles for the Hurricanes during the 2006 Stanley Cup playoff run and both are veterans of playoff runs with other teams as well. I would expect each to have big series to help their respective team win the Clarence S. Campbell bowl before going on to potentially play for their second Stanley Cup Championship. Radim Vrbata played with the Canes for parts of three seasons, with his biggest season in a Canes sweater coming in 2003-2004 where he played 80 games with the team and had 25 points. While Ponikarovsky did not live up to expectations for the Hurricanes, he has found his place in New Jersey. During 49 games with the Canes this season, Ponikarovsky registered just 15 points (7G, 8A) and was a -22. In just 33 games with the Devils, he notched 18 points (7G, 11A) and was a +9. Keith Aucoin’s run with the Canes spanned part of three seasons, mostly during the 2007-2008 season where Aucoin played 38 games. Aucoin has played parts of four seasons with the Capitals and their minor league affiliate Hershey Bears, with him spending a good chunk of time with the Capitals this season. He had 11 points (3G, 8A) in 27 games with Washington during the 2011-2012 season.
Which former Cane do you think will have the biggest impact on their team in the conference finals? Will Justin Williams or Ray Whitney eventually win their second cup? Discuss in the comments! Feel free to check us out on Facebook at CardiacCane. Also, be sure to follow Cardiac Cane writers on Twitter at: @CardiacCaneFS, @Esbee92, @peacelovepuck, @caniaccaz and @caniac176