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Staal, Whitney Doing Job Leading Offense

Saturday, 12.27.2008 / 2:27 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Staal, Whitney Doing Job Leading Offense
During the Canes’ struggles earlier in the season, it was said often: “Our best players need to play like our best players.”
Paul Branecky
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That hasn’t been a problem lately. Eric Staal’s hat trick last night gave him 13 points in his last nine games, including three separate three-point efforts.

He’ll get most of the accolades for the 5-4 win against the Thrashers, and rightfully so. All three of his goals came in the third period, when he seemed to decide that the Hurricanes simply were not going to lose and powered the puck to the net regardless of who may have been in his way. His last two goals, both of the unassisted variety, speak to that determined individual effort.

But let’s not forget another one of the Canes’ offensive leaders, Ray Whitney, who has matched Staal point-for-point in over that same nine-game stretch. With three assists, his three-point night against the Thrashers may not have had quite the luster that Staal’s did, although his brilliant behind-the-back pass on Patrick Eaves’ first goal of the season was up there with everything Staal did on the highlight scale.

“Those guys have to be the difference over the haul, and they will be one way or another,” said coach Paul Maurice. “Those players are always the difference in your season, and we’re getting some pretty fine performances from both of them.”

What makes Staal and Whitney’s performances even more significant is that they don’t play on the same line. If they were paired together, it would be easy to explain their equally high scoring outputs. In reality, they’ve only figured in on the same goal twice during that nine-game span – a power play goal last night and another two games ago at Montreal.

That gives the Canes two dangerous scoring lines – Staal’s with Tuomo Ruutu and Sergei Samsonov and Whitney’s with Rod Brind’Amour and Scott Walker – although Maurice said today that he’d like to see both of them on their game on the same night, rather than alternating games where one line will take the forefront while the other one is relatively quiet, which Maurice called a “toggle effect.”

In addition to finding that consistency, Maurice said he’d also like to see more production from the rest of the lineup, particularly Matt Cullen’s unit, now featuring Chad LaRose and Justin Williams. Those three have only combined for six points in Maurice’s tenure as coach.

“I still think the X-factor is Cullen’s line and Sutter’s line,” said Maurice. “Sutter’s line in terms of zone possession has been very good for us, but I still think Cullen’s line has another gear. I think LaRose being on that line has given them a chance to create some offense and they’re starting to generate some chances, which is a positive, but I think those guys are going to have to start scoring for us.”

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81