Flyers vs. Hurricanes
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.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
2 x - NYR 75 47 21 7 228 177 101
3 x - TBL 77 47 23 7 249 201 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 DET 75 40 23 12 220 206 92
7 WSH 76 41 25 10 223 188 92
8 BOS 76 38 25 13 201 196 89
9 OTT 75 37 26 12 218 203 86
10 FLA 76 35 26 15 190 207 85
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 76 31 33 12 168 194 74
14 CAR 75 28 36 11 174 204 67
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 70 21 28 -12 49
J. Faulk 75 15 32 -17 47
E. Lindholm 74 16 21 -19 37
J. Skinner 70 18 13 -21 31
V. Rask 73 11 20 -12 31
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 71 8 17 -13 25
J. McClement 75 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 47 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 39 4 16 -7 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 20 21 5 .911 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 15 6 .904 2.60