Tracking the Storm

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 - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 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