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Blues vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Almost There, But Not Quite

Tuesday, 03.24.2009 / 1:29 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Almost There, But Not Quite
Last night’s overtime win against Florida has the Canes as close to the playoffs as they’ve been all season, but there’s still work to be done yet.
Paul Branecky
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Carolina is currently six points clear of the ninth-placed Panthers with only seven games remaining on its schedule. While their chances of getting into the postseason skyrocketed over the past week due to their own play and the misfortunes of others, just ask last year’s team about how a seemingly sure thing can disappear just as quickly.

Even for those who weren’t with the team at the conclusion of 2007-08, it’s not time to celebrate quite yet.

“Eighty-seven points doesn’t get you into the playoffs,” said Coach Paul Maurice of his team’s current point total. “We’re in a good position, but a lot of other teams have games in hand on us now, which is a concern. At the same time, I think we’ve almost gotten through one of the roughest parts of our schedule in terms of the number of games. We need the same things to happen – we need to stay healthy and keep playing well.”

As of Tuesday morning, the Hurricanes had played more games than any team in the NHL with 75. That’s not to say that the team’s position in fifth place is entirely misleading, as Carolina would still hold the seventh seed even if every team chasing them won all of their games in hand – an unlikely yet possible scenario that the Canes have no choice but to recognize.

There is one factor the Hurricanes have displayed throughout March that, if they can maintain it, will help them take the final steps necessary to secure their first postseason berth in two years: confidence.

The team has faced some adversity in recent games, namely a two-goal deficit against the Islanders on Friday, an allowed goal to Washington in the final minute of the second period on Saturday that could have been a turning point and the five-on-three power play Florida used to tie last night’s game late in the third.

The common thread in each of those is that the Hurricanes were able to dodge those curveballs and prevail. That self-belief should serve them well as they try to hold off the likes of the New York Rangers, Montreal and Florida down the stretch.

“This team now, because of the fight we’ve been in for what seems like two months with enough ups and downs and surviving, we’ve got confidence in those times of the game,” said Maurice of overcoming those obstacles. “If you have a little bit of success coming back in games, you remember that.”

Their next test will be a strong one, as Ottawa comes to Raleigh tomorrow. Although the odds are heavily against the Senators getting into the postseason, they are doing all they can to change that by going 9-2-0 in their last 11 games.  They trail Buffalo, who is fading quickly from the playoff race, by only two points.

“I think they are the hottest team in the league,” said Maurice. “They’ve covered a huge amount of distance in a short period of time, so now they think that they can [make the playoffs]. I don’t believe that anybody ever looked at that team and said they weren’t talented enough to be in the playoffs. Their best players are playing very, very well, and that gives them a chance to win.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 50 31 15 4 163 132 66
2 MTL 47 31 13 3 127 108 65
3 NYI 48 32 15 1 157 135 65
4 DET 49 28 12 9 145 128 65
5 PIT 48 27 13 8 143 124 62
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 BOS 49 26 16 7 131 123 59
8 NYR 46 27 15 4 135 111 58
9 FLA 46 21 15 10 114 129 52
10 PHI 50 21 22 7 139 151 49
11 TOR 50 22 24 4 144 155 48
12 OTT 47 19 19 9 129 134 47
13 CBJ 47 21 23 3 119 148 45
14 NJD 48 18 22 8 109 135 44
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 49 14 32 3 92 174 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 42 16 14 -6 30
J. Faulk 47 9 19 -13 28
E. Lindholm 47 9 11 -11 20
J. Tlusty 40 12 7 -11 19
J. Skinner 42 10 9 -7 19
R. Nash 47 7 12 -4 19
N. Gerbe 43 5 13 -3 18
V. Rask 47 6 9 -10 15
A. Sekera 45 1 14 -6 15
C. Terry 34 6 3 -3 9
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 6 8 2 .918 2.30
C. Ward 11 17 3 .911 2.45