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Coping Without Cole

Monday, 10.5.2009 / 2:26 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Coping Without Cole
Although losing Erik Cole for around a month has come as a small shock to the Hurricanes, players and coaches alike kept pointing to the team’s off-season additions as a reason they should pull through.

Paul Branecky
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“When you have to miss a month that’s tough, but more for him than us because I think we’re going to be alright,” said captain Rod Brind’Amour. “We’ve got enough depth here to overcome it.”

“We’re going to face this whether it’s Erik Cole or whoever,” said Coach Paul Maurice. “We’re going to lose guys over the course of the year. We talked about depth over the summer and adding guys, and we feel like we have enough players to play with a strong offensive game.”

In Cole’s absence, the Canes used a top line of Eric Staal, Sergei Samsonov and Tuomo Ruutu at Monday’s practice. That trio played together for a significant chunk of last season, right up until Cole was re-acquired from Edmonton at the trade deadline (full lines here). Safe to say, there’s some familiarity there.

“I’m not worried,” said Staal. “Obviously [Cole] is a good player and he brings a lot to the table, but I can still be successful whether he’s on my wing or not. We’ll obviously miss him when he‘s gone, but we’ll be alright without him.”

“We’re going to miss Erik and certainly his speed, but somehow Eric Staal was a good player without him and we expect Eric to still be able to perform,” said Maurice.

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While players have moved up to replace Cole on the top line, Maurice said he isn’t yet sure about who will enter the lineup in his stead. It could be as simple as Joni Pitkanen’s return from knee surgery (Maurice was “hopeful” of that), which could lead the team to keep Jay Harrison in the lineup and dress seven defensemen. The team could also put Tim Conboy into the lineup as a fourth-line forward, where he practiced on Monday.

”We’ll just take it day by day before any of those long-term decisions on how this all fits together,” said Maurice.

Another wild card could be the health of Scott Walker, who missed Monday’s skate with an illness.

“We’re so paranoid about that going through the team now,” said Maurice, whose team has had to deal with a few separate flu outbreaks in recent years. “I expect him in the lineup. We just didn’t want him kissing anybody in the room.”

Monday’s practice was much more upbeat and featured a lot more chatter than the previous day’s session as the Canes attempt to rebound from their season-opening skid. It also included some special teams work, which has been a major problem for the team thus far. The power play (1-for-18; 5.6 percent) and penalty kill (7-for-13; 54 percent) share equal blame.

”Our special teams are not very special right now,” said Maurice.

As stated yesterday, the Canes are hoping an adjustment to how they approach the entire game in general will trickle down to those areas.

“This is not a technical issue,” said Maurice. “It’s an aggressiveness issue, and that’s [also] true of our five-on-five.”

SCHEDULE

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AWAY
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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
K. Versteeg 63 11 22 -6 33
E. Staal 63 10 23 -3 33
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81