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Wild vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Defense Getting Offensive

Saturday, 11.08.2008 / 1:26 PM / 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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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
3 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 62 12 28 -18 40
E. Staal 57 18 20 -12 38
E. Lindholm 61 11 16 -18 27
J. Skinner 57 16 10 -17 26
N. Gerbe 58 7 16 -10 23
R. Nash 59 7 15 -10 22
V. Rask 60 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 62 6 13 3 19
J. Staal 26 4 12 -4 16
A. Nestrasil 34 4 11 4 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 20 4 .911 2.43
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .905 2.61