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Wild vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Strong Test to Start

Thursday, 10.01.2009 / 12:27 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Strong Test to Start
It’s really no wonder the Canes designed their training camp with the intention of maximizing the team’s focus right off the bat, because that’s when they’ll have potentially their toughest back-to-back set of games for the entire season.

Paul Branecky
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It can’t possibly get much more difficult than Philadelphia and Boston in consecutive days – teams which some pundits are picking to finish first and second in the Eastern Conference in some order. I’ve at least taken a glance at 20 or so ranking and previews from various media outlets, and the lowest I’ve seen either team ranked is fourth.

Only another set of back-to-backs at the end of this month – at Philadelphia on Halloween followed by a home date with San Jose – comes close to that kind of difficulty, at least from where we stand here on the eve of opening night.

Long story short, not a lot of time to get those legs and hands going.

“It’ll force you to define your game and to really be sharp with the style of game that you have to play,” said Coach Paul Maurice. “I don’t think that you can let the talent that those teams will show loose on the ice. We have to be very, very disciplined with what we do.”

At any rate, any of the Canes’ players and coaches will tell you that it doesn’t matter how strong the opponent is as long as they play their game, which is true. They’ve got a number of things going for them, including that they get to start in what should be a jazzed-up atmosphere at home on a Friday night.

Another thing is that, with the start of the season only one day away, I like the way this page looks (no disrespect to Michael Ryan). It’s easy to take that for granted, but remember that that chart had a 30-goal scorer on it until December of last season. OK, I think I’ve successfully said enough about that issue without jinxing anything. Knock on wood, just in case.

Moving along, the only major player in question is Joni Pitkanen, who continues to practice with the team and look just fine in doing so. He’s taken on his expected regular pairing alongside Aaron Ward, moving Jay Harrison back with Tim Conboy on the fourth defensive unit.

“I think the injury is fine, the question is whether he’s practiced enough to get into a full-tilt back-to-back game,” said Maurice. “We’ll answer that tomorrow.”

Even if Pitkanen does suit up, it will be interesting to see what kind of minutes he logs in his first game action of the year. He led the Canes and ranked 15th in the NHL with an average of 24:48 minutes played per game last season. That could be a tall order for opening night.

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYI 63 41 20 2 202 174 84
3 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
4 TBL 63 38 19 6 207 167 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 63 33 20 10 184 159 76
8 BOS 61 30 22 9 161 160 69
9 FLA 62 27 22 13 150 175 67
10 PHI 62 26 25 11 164 181 63
11 OTT 59 26 23 10 167 161 62
12 NJD 62 25 27 10 139 164 60
13 CBJ 60 26 30 4 157 189 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 60 23 30 7 137 159 53
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 60 11 28 -14 39
E. Staal 55 18 18 -9 36
E. Lindholm 59 11 16 -15 27
J. Skinner 55 16 9 -15 25
R. Nash 57 7 15 -8 22
N. Gerbe 56 7 14 -11 21
V. Rask 58 8 11 -16 19
J. McClement 60 4 12 1 16
J. Staal 24 4 11 -1 15
A. Semin 36 2 12 -8 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 16 19 4 .914 2.35
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .906 2.60