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Despite Clinching, Canes' Outlook Unchanged

Monday, 04.6.2009 / 12:45 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Despite Clinching, Canes\' Outlook Unchanged
Note: We've fixed it on the site, but I wanted to provide another avenue to make things clear - this week's Canes Corner is on WEDNESDAY at 6 p.m. at the Bass Lake Draft House, not tonight.  Sorry for the confusion.

Paul Maurice audio

This sure beats the drama of having to wait until the last game of the season, doesn’t it?

Paul Branecky
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Thanks to eight straight victories and a 12-1-2 record since March 3, the Canes are back in the playoffs with a week to spare. Prior to that run, it had always been quietly assumed that Carolina’s postseason fate would be decided in the final days, but apparently the team had enough of that in 2008.

“After what we went through last year, it’s just nice to have it locked up now,” said Eric Staal

So what to do with the well-earned week where, for the first time in months, every game and every point suddenly aren’t quite as crucial as they once were?

“You treat it exactly the same,” said Staal. “We’ve got a chance to get home ice, and we know from 2006 how important that is. It’s a big week for us, and we’re going into every game to win and get ready for the playoffs.”

There’s a very real chance the Canes can climb up to fourth place and play their first two playoff games at the RBC Center, but they would need a little help. Even if they win all three of their remaining games, they would need Philadelphia to lose one of their remaining four contests. In that scenario, the teams would be tied on points but Carolina would have the total wins tiebreaker.

Given the way the team is playing at in their own building, home ice should be something to strive for at this point, even if Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, who the Canes would be likely to play in that scenario, would represent two of the tougher potential match-ups.

“We’re trying to win as many games as we possibly can and stay on our roll,” said Coach Paul Maurice. “We want to do everything that we can to climb as high as we possibly can. Clearly we would like to have home ice advantage, but if that doesn’t happen we’re still charged with the same task to win in the first round.”

The Canes can also afford to keep being cautious with injuries, although in the case of Matt Cullen, who did not practice again today, the Canes would like him to suit up in the regular season rather than go in cold for the first game of the playoffs, if possible. Maurice is targeting the final game against New Jersey on Saturday for that to happen.

“His conditioning is not an issue and he has no fear of that,” said Maurice. “He really feels that once he gets out onto the ice he’s going to be fine to play.”

Joe Corvo and Tuomo Ruutu also did not practice today. Michael Ryan took Ruutu’s place on the top line, while Tim Conboy dropped back to defense.

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
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