Tracking the Storm

Defense Getting Offensive

Saturday, 11.8.2008 / 1:26 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Defense Getting Offensive

It was more obvious last night, but it’s been a theme throughout the first month of the season – more goals by defensemen.

Paul Branecky
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Including Dennis Seidenberg and Joe Corvo’s goals in the 2-1 win over Ottawa last night, eight of the team’s 41 goals have come from the blueline – good for 19.5 percent and on pace for 46.  Last year, Hurricanes defensemen only scored 20 goals, which amounted to only eight percent of the team’s total.

More offense from the back end was the plan when Jim Rutherford began to reshape the defense last season with the acquisition of Corvo and the addition of Joni Pitkanen in the offseason, and so far it seems to be working very well.

“I think it’s just a change in the personnel,” said coach Peter Laviolette after this morning’s practice.  “It’s a change in the makeup and fitting into the way we play here.”

Even though he’s been with the team for a while as the seventh defenseman, Dennis Seidenberg (two goals, eight points) could probably be included in the “personnel change” discussion with his vastly increased role this year.

But the team has also been benefiting from the contributions of players like Niclas Wallin (one goal, seven points) and Tim Gleason (six points).  Even Anton Babchuk and Josef Melichar have been getting involved lately, with two assists apiece in their last three games.

With two of the more offensive guys in Pitkanen and Frank Kaberle missing time due to injury, it’s the traditionally more defensive players that have provided the team with a boost.

“It’s something that I’ve always stressed,” said Laviolette, who hasn’t been asking for his defense to get involved any more than he usually does.  “These are skilled guys, and they can find the back of the net.”

Notes from Saturday:

  • Laviolette has been deflecting praise for becoming the winningest American-born coach in history last night ("It's nice," is about all he said this morning), but it really it quite an accomplishment.

    I think it's fitting that it came at a time when he's doing one of his better coaching jobs, guiding an injury-riddled team to an 8-4-2 start and first place in the division.  He's had to deal with more challenges in that regard than the average NHL coach, which makes the accomplishment all the more remarkable.
     
  • Matt Cullen practiced today, but Laviolette said he wasn't sure about his status for tomorrow's game against Atlanta.  Joni Pitkanen and Brandon Sutter practiced in non-contact jerseys, while Frank Kaberle skated on his own beforehand.  No sign of Patrick Eaves, who continues to deal with an illness.

SCHEDULE

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AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72