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Surprisingly, Home Ice a Possibility

Friday, 04.3.2009 / 12:59 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Surprisingly, Home Ice a Possibility
Forget just making the playoffs. These Canes have been playing like home ice advantage in the first round, which they would have if the season ended today, was their goal all along.

Paul Branecky
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With the way they’re going, it’s hard to argue that they don’t deserve it. I don’t think I need to remind anyone how good the 2005-06 Stanley Cup team was at home (OK, fine, they were 31-8-2), but even they never won 10 in a row in the friendly confines of the RBC Center.

Now, whether the Canes will retain hold of the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference isn’t a sure thing by any means, as Philadelphia is only one point back with two games in hand, and Pittsburgh is in that mix as well. Although that’s still an uphill battle, given how far away it looked just a short month ago, even being in that neighborhood has to be considered an unbelievable accomplishment.

“I didn’t really expect we’d be talking about it at this time of year,” said Tuomo Ruutu. “It’s so tight right now and teams are playing each other and having bad times and good times. Right now we’re having a good time, and you never know what could happen.”

There’s still a more important task at hand, and that’s the not-so-small matter of actually wrapping up a playoff spot of any kind. That accomplishment is getting closer and closer by the day.

A win tomorrow night against the Penguins, coupled with regulation losses by either Florida (tonight vs. Atlanta) or the Rangers (tomorrow afternoon vs. Boston) would mathematically seal the deal. In that scenario, the Canes would have 95 points and a total wins tiebreaker over the Panthers, Rangers and/or Sabres, making it impossible for any of those teams to catch up.

Matt Cullen remained off the ice today – at this point, no rush whatsoever. After leaving last night’s game with an upper-body injury during the second period, Patrick Eaves was back for the full session.

After his 25th consecutive start, Cam Ward got the day off today. Television Color Analyst Tripp Tracy again filled in opposite Michael Leighton, with Eric Staal in particular not making things very easy on the volunteer netminder.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

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
K. Versteeg 63 11 22 -6 33
E. Staal 63 10 23 -3 33
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81