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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 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 55 32 17 6 153 127 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 BOS 55 30 19 6 163 150 66
5 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
6 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
7 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 56 28 21 7 124 124 63
10 PHI 54 24 20 10 128 140 58
11 CAR 55 24 21 10 131 143 58
12 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
15 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 54 15 19 -13 34
J. Skinner 55 19 12 -3 31
V. Rask 53 12 19 0 31
J. Staal 55 12 19 7 31
K. Versteeg 54 10 21 1 31
E. Staal 55 9 21 1 30
E. Lindholm 55 8 16 -9 24
A. Nestrasil 48 8 12 0 20
J. Nordstrom 44 5 10 2 15
R. Hainsey 55 3 11 -12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 15 11 7 .909 2.34
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74
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