Tracking the Storm

Road to Cup Goes Through Jersey (Again)

Monday, 04.13.2009 / 1:29 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Road to Cup Goes Through Jersey (Again)
Another postseason, another date with the Devils.

For the fourth time in five playoff appearances since moving to North Carolina, the Hurricanes will face New Jersey in the playoffs. Carolina has won two of the three prior series, including consecutive meetings in 2002 and 2006, both years that saw the Canes advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

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“We always seem to hit Jersey in the playoffs. That’s standard for us,” said Coach Paul Maurice. 

In perhaps not great news for the Canes, the team with home ice advantage won all three prior series. The Devils, the higher-seeded team this time around, host the first two games on Wednesday and Friday before the action shifts to Raleigh on Sunday and Tuesday.

For the season series, the Canes won both of their home games and split their two games at New Jersey, both of which came in the last two weeks of the regular season. The Devils avoided the sweep with a 3-2 victory this past Saturday with the help of two odd bounces from the same area of the Prudential Center boards.

“Don’t dump it into the one corner,” said Eric Staal of what the team learned from Saturday’s preview. “Unless you’re going on offense.”

With great play in goal, responsible defense and skilled players up front, the Canes and Devils seem to match up fairly evenly. If the Hurricanes have one advantage entering the series, it’s momentum. Although they lost their last two games of the season after a postseason berth had been wrapped up, they posted a 13-3-2 record to close the year. 

Meanwhile, the Devils were 11-8-1 during the same time period, including a season-high six-game losing streak that ended on April 3.  However, the Devils may have turned it around at the right time with four wins in their last five games.

If both teams play the way they’re capable of, expect a long, back-and-forth series.

“In the games that we’ve played against this team going back, I don’t really remember a blowout one way or another,” said Maurice. “Great goaltending, both teams work really hard in the small areas of the ice and there will be a lot of grind and a lot of close-scoring games.”

Matt Cullen returned to practice today for the first time since playing in a limited role on March 21 against Washington and will play in Game 1 on Wednesday. At this morning’s session, he centered the fourth line between Tim Conboy and Patrick Eaves, with Jussi Jokinen keeping his spot on the second unit.

“Matt looked real good, so he would go back in,” said Maurice. “I don’t think right out of the gate that we’ll take Jokinen out of that spot. He’s been too good there, and we’ve won a lot of games with him there. With a guy coming off a longer-term injury than we had hoped, it’s difficult to throw him into that pace right away.”

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