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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.”

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 54 40 10 4 178 124 84
2 FLA 56 32 18 6 153 132 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 BOS 55 30 19 6 163 150 66
5 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
7 NYI 54 29 19 6 153 137 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 56 28 21 7 124 124 63
10 CAR 56 25 21 10 137 146 60
11 PHI 54 24 20 10 128 140 58
12 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
13 OTT 57 25 26 6 159 177 56
14 CBJ 57 23 28 6 144 175 52
15 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
16 TOR 54 20 25 9 127 151 49

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 54 15 19 -13 34
V. Rask 54 14 19 2 33
J. Staal 56 12 21 8 33
J. Skinner 56 19 13 -1 32
K. Versteeg 55 11 21 1 32
E. Staal 56 9 21 0 30
E. Lindholm 56 8 17 -9 25
A. Nestrasil 49 9 12 1 21
J. Nordstrom 45 5 11 2 16
R. Hainsey 56 3 11 -11 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 16 11 7 .909 2.35
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74