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Wild vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Coping Without Cole

Monday, 10.05.2009 / 2:26 PM / 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 MTL 62 41 16 5 171 135 87
2 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
3 NYR 61 38 17 6 192 152 82
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 61 24 30 7 142 162 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 61 12 28 -16 40
E. Staal 56 18 19 -10 37
E. Lindholm 60 11 16 -16 27
J. Skinner 56 16 10 -16 26
R. Nash 58 7 15 -9 22
N. Gerbe 57 7 15 -11 22
V. Rask 59 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 61 6 12 3 18
J. Staal 25 4 12 -2 16
A. Nestrasil 33 4 10 4 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 19 4 .913 2.37
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .906 2.60