Tracking the Storm

Cullen, LaRose Call Their Shot

Friday, 01.30.2009 / 1:42 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Cullen, LaRose Call Their Shot
Paul Maurice audio

The Hurricanes finally got their first shorthanded goal of the season in last night’s win over Tampa Bay, and it was no accident.
Paul Branecky
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“Matt [Cullen] said that before the game – let’s get a short-hander tonight,” Chad LaRose recalled. “I said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

It was fitting then that Cullen set up LaRose for the second-period goal that tied the score at 1-1. Prior to that tally, the Canes were the only team in the NHL yet to score while down a man.

Even prior the goal, which clearly swung the momentum in Carolina’s direction, the penalty kill was creating chances in a way it hadn’t done all season. The team had three shorthanded shots on goal in the first period, which likely rivals their total from the first 49 games of the season.

According to coach Paul Maurice, the offensive chances stem from a dramatic improvement on the defensive side. The Hurricanes have only allowed one power play goal in their last five games – the best stretch of the season for a unit still ranked 23rd in the league.

“We’ve started to generate some things shorthanded, and I think that just comes from confidence,” said Maurice. “They’re not as afraid to make a play now when they’re short because they’ve had some success with it. When a penalty kill is struggling, the first thing you’re always screaming is to just get it down and just kill the penalty.”

If the Canes can consistently present themselves as a legitimate threat to create chances shorthanded, they should continue to have a much easier time keeping the opposition off the board while in the box.

“There’s no question,” said Maurice. “It makes [the opposition] respect your forwards a little bit, and when there’s a turnover and your forwards get it, they’re not just casually waiting for you to dump it down. They have to hold the line, and it changes the amount of time they have in their in-zone pressure.” 

Practice round-up:
  • Maurice shifted his right wingers around at practice. Tuomo Ruutu was back with Eric Staal and Sergei Samsonov, while Justin Williams moved to Matt Cullen’s line with Ray Whitney.

    That change was actually made in the second period of last night’s game, even though Maurice said going in that he intended to keep those groupings consistent.

    “Willy blocked a shot in the first period on the power play, and I think that didn’t help him any out on the ice. I just felt at that point that that line was going to be the difference for us, so we just put Ruutu back there. I think you’re going to see some movement on those two lines over the course of games just on how guys are going.”

    He was right about the revised combinations being the difference – they scored the winner in the dying minutes.
     
  • Niclas Wallin practiced in a non-contact jersey, while Dennis Seidenberg and Scott Walker remained out.

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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