Tracking the Storm

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 - 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