Bruins vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Gameday: Canes vs. Tampa Bay

Tuesday, 10.6.2009 / 11:23 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Gameday: Canes vs. Tampa Bay
The Canes open divisional play tonight against a team that couldn’t beat them in six tries last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Joni Pitkanen will make his season debut for the Canes tonight in place of Jay Harrison, with Tim Conboy also entering the lineup.

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Carolina swept the season series with Tampa in 2008-09, as the Lightning eventually finished 14th in the Eastern Conference. However, with the additions of Mattias Ohlund, second overall pick Victor Hedman and Alex Tanguay and a healthy Mike Smith in goal, they should be a more formidable opponent in the new season. ESPN even has them as a playoff team this season, finishing ahead of the Canes in the Southeast.

“It’s going to be another tough challenge,” said Canes goaltender Cam Ward. “The Lightning is a team that if you look at their lineup has definitely improved from where they were last year.”

Tampa has only played one game this season, a 6-3 loss in Atlanta on Saturday night. While that opening result doesn’t suggest fortunes have turned around in that particular part of Florida, the Lightning still have the offensive weapons to give the Hurricanes problems if their penalty kill doesn’t improve upon it’s current 53.8 percent record. Tampa recently hired Adam Oates as an assistant coach, where he’s working closely with the power play in a Ron Francis-type capacity.

Conversely, the Canes may have an easier time generating offense than they did in their first two games if the Lightning can’t shore up their defensive zone. Six goals to the Thrashers is a little much, even if at least one of them was a bit fluky. Also, defenseman Kurtis Foster is out with a lower body injury.

In a somewhat unusual move that can likely be chalked up to early-season bonding on the road, they came to Raleigh immediately after that game and practiced at the RBC Center each of the last two days. That leaves them plenty familiar with the Canes’ current situation.

"They are not happy at all," Head Coach Rick Tocchet told the St. Pete Times. "Like (Lightning associate coach) Rick Wilson said, 'We may be coming into a hornet's nest.'"

In response to the Canes’ plan of being more tenacious on the puck in all facets of their game, Tocchet added, “When teams play aggressive, you have to push back. That's our motto tomorrow."

Could it be yet another rough game for Carolina, which easily leads the league with 71 total penalty minutes thus far?

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 74 35 35 4 203 230 74
13 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 68 20 27 -13 47
J. Faulk 73 14 32 -18 46
E. Lindholm 72 16 20 -21 36
J. Skinner 68 18 12 -22 30
V. Rask 71 11 19 -12 30
R. Nash 67 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 69 7 17 -13 24
J. McClement 73 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 45 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 37 4 15 -9 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 19 21 5 .910 2.43
A. Khudobin 8 15 5 .903 2.62