Tracking the Storm

For Canes, Playoff Run Begins Now

Monday, 01.26.2009 / 4:29 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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For Canes, Playoff Run Begins Now
After a quiet week in Raleigh while the Canes had all gone their separate ways for the All-Star break, the team was back into it at full speed on Monday.
Paul Branecky
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Coach Paul Maurice said he was surprised at the energy and crispness of today’s afternoon practice.  It even ran a little longer than planned, prompting everyone to rush off the ice and to the airport to make their scheduled flight to New York just an hour later.

Still wary of the way his team played in Atlanta after a much shorter Christmas break, the head coach used the extra time today to make sure they would come out for Tuesday night’s road game against the Rangers with the same intensity they showed in winning their two most recent games.

”It’s a real important step to get the guys back to feeling good, and we had good jump today,” said Maurice. “I don’t know if it’s a good sign or not, but it was far sharper and quicker than you would expect after having five days off.”

Part of that may be due to the renewed focus that comes after the All-Star break, which is the unofficial beginning of the playoff run for all but a few teams that have a firm hold on a postseason berth or are in too big of a hole to have much urgency.

“After a five-day break like that, coming back we know this is grind-time,” said defenseman Tim Gleason. “This is the best part of the year, and I think a lot of guys are glad to be back, excited to be back and more mentally focused than we were going into the break. It’s a long year, but this is the most exciting time of the year and we’re ready for it.”

The Canes made a nice run after the break last year with a record of 19-9-2. Although they’re a little better-positioned now than they were going into that stretch drive, anything much short of that this time around could end with the same result.

With so much on the line, Maurice said one of his biggest challenges will be managing the team mentally and making sure they don’t become exhausted with the pressure that comes with each contest.

“Every win will be euphoric and then every loss will be devastating,” he said. “Probably what’s going to happen here is that one team is going to make it by a point and then obviously one team is going to miss it by a point. I think we can assume that the emotions of the team that makes it will be more consistent and upbeat.”

Maurice cited health as one of the most important factors that determine which teams will make the playoffs. Fortunately, the Canes have a lot of it right now. Aside from Eric Staal, who went straight to New York from the All-Star game in Montreal, only Niclas Wallin missed today’s practice. He will not play tomorrow night, but is day-to-day beyond that.

For more on the Rangers game, check out today's abbreviated episode of The Hurricanes Report.  We're planning to record another one on Wednesday.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 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