Tracking the Storm

Maurice Hoping for Improvements Tonight

Wednesday, 12.31.2008 / 11:39 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Maurice Hoping for Improvements Tonight
Paul Maurice morning skate audio

Last Friday’s meeting between the Canes and Atlanta, the first following the NHL’s holiday break, was an interesting one to say the least. Even though Carolina won 5-4, it was the type of game that neither coach was especially pleased with afterwards.
Paul Branecky
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“I think that was the poorest game that we’ve played since I got here,” said Paul Maurice, who added that he hoped that was due to holiday rust than anything else. “I just thought it was a poorly played hockey game by two teams.”

On what specifically he’s been working with the team to correct from that game, Maurice cited turnovers that Atlanta created while the Canes were trying to break the puck out of their own defensive zone.

“When you get control of the puck in your end of the ice, people start moving into breakout positions,” said Maurice. “If you turn it over then, you’ve got a guy in the corner, you’ve got a guy on the wall and they’ve got the puck in the middle of the ice. That’s a real problem for us. That’s what I thought we did poorly, and a lot of our problems were self-inflicted.”

That part of their game was better against Boston, although the Bruins were able to score the winning goal on a play similar to the one Maurice described. That’s why the team has been concentrating on defensive zone coverage in their two full practices since.

Atlanta’s Bryan Little won’t make things easy on the Canes, as he has continued his hot scoring pace since he and Eric Staal traded hat tricks last week. He’s potted seven goals during a current four-game goal streak.

On the flip side, Ilya Kovalchuk, a 50-goal scorer last season a perennially one of the league’s top snipers, has now gone a career-high nine games without scoring a goal. That’s not always good news for the opposition, however. Montreal’s Alexei Kovalev was in a 19-game drought before scoring on the Canes and then starting a three-game streak, while Eric Staal was in an eight-game slump before scoring three on the Phoenix Coyotes back in November.

Atlanta played last night on the road in Toronto, which should be advantage for a Canes team that’s been off since the Bruins game on Saturday. Goaltender Johan Hedberg, who has played well against Carolina throughout his career but is expected to sit for Kari Lehtonen tonight, made 43 saves in the losing effort.

The Thrashers were outshot 47-32 in the game, and have only outshot the opposition six times this season.

A reminder that the game starts an hour later than usual tonight at 8 p.m. If you haven’t heard yet, there’s plenty going on at the RBC Center tonight after the game, so stick around and enjoy the beginning of 2009.

World Junior update
: We thought yesterday on the podcast that Drayson Bowman might have a big night, but he joined fellow Canes prospect Zach Boychuk in taking it easy on the overmatched Kazakhstan team. He only had one goal in Team USA’s 12-0 win, but now has three in three games for the tournament.

Bowman and Boychuk face off against each other tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the much-anticipated Canada-USA game.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 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