Flyers vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Strong Test to Start

Thursday, 10.1.2009 / 12:27 PM ET / 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.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 75 47 21 7 228 177 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 DET 75 40 23 12 220 206 92
7 WSH 76 41 25 10 223 188 92
8 BOS 76 38 25 13 201 196 89
9 OTT 75 37 26 12 218 203 86
10 FLA 76 35 26 15 190 207 85
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 76 31 33 12 168 194 74
14 CAR 75 28 36 11 174 204 67
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 70 21 28 -12 49
J. Faulk 75 15 32 -17 47
E. Lindholm 74 16 21 -19 37
J. Skinner 70 18 13 -21 31
V. Rask 73 11 20 -12 31
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 71 8 17 -13 25
J. McClement 75 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 47 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 39 4 16 -7 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 20 21 5 .911 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 15 6 .904 2.60