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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 WSH 52 39 9 4 171 117 82
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
5 NYI 52 28 18 6 145 129 62
6 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
7 BOS 53 28 19 6 153 146 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
12 OTT 55 25 24 6 154 169 56
13 PHI 52 23 20 9 122 137 55
14 BUF 54 21 27 6 124 146 48
15 CBJ 55 21 28 6 137 170 48
16 TOR 52 19 24 9 120 144 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 54 15 19 -13 34
J. Skinner 54 19 12 -3 31
V. Rask 52 12 19 0 31
J. Staal 54 12 19 8 31
K. Versteeg 53 10 21 1 31
E. Staal 54 9 21 0 30
E. Lindholm 54 8 16 -9 24
A. Nestrasil 47 7 12 0 19
J. Nordstrom 43 5 9 2 14
R. Hainsey 54 3 11 -11 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 15 11 6 .908 2.38
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74
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