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Staal, Cole Reunited on Top Line

Thursday, 03.5.2009 / 12:42 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Staal, Cole Reunited on Top Line
Audio: Paul Maurice | Erik Cole | Eric Staal

Erik Cole admitted that he was very surprised when he first heard the news, but that emotion quickly changed to excitement as he prepared to rejoin the Hurricanes at today’s practice.

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“As I departed Ottawa (where the Edmonton Oilers were at the time), it was hard to hide the smile from my face,” he said. “It’s exciting, and you can’t say enough about the group of guys here and about playing here for these fans and this organization.”

Cole returned to his usual spot on Eric Staal’s right wing, with Tuomo Ruutu sliding over to the left. Sergei Samsonov moves to Rod Brind’Amour’s wing in a spot most recently held by Michael Ryan – Depth Chart

Speaking of Ryan, he was put on waivers at noon today and was not at practice.

The moves give Carolina a strong, physical first line that coach Paul Maurice hopes will be able to sustain possession and pressure in the offensive zone for long periods of time.

“Some lines are just rush lines and have great speed, but once you get set up on the boards in the offensive zone, if you’re a 180 pound guy that skates real fast, there’s not a whole lot you can do with that,” Maurice said. “I think the biggest difference is that one guy can control the puck, allowing the others to find open ice.”

In addition to changing the dynamic of that line, moving a player like Samsonov to a different line should be of great benefit to the team’s overall depth at forward.

“I think it gives Samsonov an opportunity to sometimes play against the other team’s fifth or six (defenseman) instead of the one and two every night, so hopefully that will open up some ice for him,” said Maurice.

Since Justin Williams had been injured and off the ice even before the trade, the Canes add Cole to the team they had in Tuesday’s 5-2 win in Washington without having to lose anyone to another team. Even with Jussi Jokinen still back in Finland with his family, the team seems to have the strongest forward combinations that they’ve had all season.

The Canes actually have more healthy forwards than they have spots, as Ryan Bayda, Tim Conboy, Dwight Helminen and Scott Walker all skated together on the fourth line at today’s practice. Bayda was the odd man out in Washington, but Maurice said this morning that he hadn’t yet decided if that would be the case again tomorrow against Calgary.

Our own Dave Droschak has a feature story on the trade coming to the site later today, so be on the lookout for that.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81