Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google
Wild vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Canes Go Into Break on High Note

Wednesday, 01.21.2009 / 11:33 AM / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
X
Share with your Friends


Canes Go Into Break on High Note
It looked bleak for a while, but thanks to back-to-back wins against Toronto and Pittsburgh, the Canes now head into the All-Star break on a positive note.
Paul Branecky
Index | Archive

The team’s most recent three-game road trip, which began with a 3-1 loss in Buffalo before winning the next two, is almost the complete opposite of the disastrous swing only a week earlier that featured blowout losses in Boston and Ottawa. In any case, winning two of three on the road should always be viewed as a success, and if not for the efforts of Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller in the third period of Saturday night’s game, the Canes could have made it a clean sweep.

There are several aspects of the Canes’ game that improved over the last week, most notably work ethic. The team was constantly the first to loose pucks and won battles all night, particularly in Pittsburgh.

Beyond that obvious yet important facet of their game, credit must also go to the penalty kill. As we’ve been mentioning recently both in this space and on the podcast, it’s quietly been a problem all year and was starting to cost the team games, especially in the loss to Toronto last week. In that game, a late power play goal by Frank Kaberle’s brother Tomas thwarted one of the finest comebacks in recent history for Carolina.

Instead of costing them games, the last two contests are the first I can think of this season that the penalty kill actually won one for the Canes.

With both games very tightly played, the outcome could have been a lot different if Toronto had converted on a lengthy two-man advantage, or if Pittsburgh had made good on their four-minute power play to finish the game last night. The Canes killed 10 of 11 penalties during the trip, responding to some criticism coach Paul Maurice threw their way beforehand.

“At the end of the day, with the guys we have on faceoffs our penalty kill shouldn’t be as bad as it is,” he said after Friday’s tough practice. “We have a very difficult time of getting into shooting lanes right now, and we’re trying to find some pairs that are willing to do that.”

That quote doesn’t include an adjective I can’t repeat here, but it’s the same one he used during his press conference after the Toronto loss, if you happened to see that.

Of course, the cliché is that your best penalty killer is always your goaltender, and the Canes had a good one. Cam Ward stopped 90 of 94 shots on the road, continuing the strong play he’s exhibited for most of his 13 consecutive starts.  I'll also single out Joe Corvo, who was on the ice for a team-high 6:30 while shorthanded against the Penguins.

Now, the Canes (with the exception of Eric Staal) will take a break for one full week, and can hold their heads reasonably high after three solid efforts. The All-Star break is really the only time the players have significant time to get away on their own (Mike Commodore had it listed as his favorite holiday in last year’s media guide), so they should come back refreshed and feeling good about themselves. That especially goes for Scott Walker and Niclas Wallin, who picked up injuries in last night’s game.

The Hurricanes were a different team after last year’s break, posting a 19-9-2 record once they got back to work. They’re in better position now than they were last year (three games above that pace and in playoff position) but they’ll need a run like that again down the stretch.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 64 41 18 5 172 142 87
2 NYR 63 39 17 7 197 155 85
3 NYI 65 41 21 3 207 182 85
4 TBL 65 39 20 6 213 171 84
5 DET 62 36 15 11 182 160 83
6 PIT 63 36 18 9 182 158 81
7 WSH 65 35 20 10 193 162 80
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 64 28 23 13 156 181 69
10 OTT 62 28 23 11 176 167 67
11 PHI 64 27 25 12 170 186 66
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 64 26 33 5 173 195 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 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