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Tracking the Storm

Staal Considered "Week-to-Week"

Tuesday, 11.03.2009 / 12:16 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Staal Considered \"Week-to-Week\"
As the Hurricanes attempt to break their current nine-game winless streak Wednesday night at Florida, they’ll have to do so without star center Eric Staal.

Paul Branecky
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Coach Paul Maurice said after Tuesday’s practice that Staal is considered “week-to-week” with an upper-body injury and would likely be sidelined at least through this weekend’s games against Toronto and Columbus as well.  Thus marks the end of his highly-impressive 349 games-played streak, which was tied for the second-longest active streak in the NHL behind Jay Bouwmeester's 354 and ranked second in franchise history behind Dave Tippett's 419.

In Staal’s absence from practice, Jussi Jokinen was elevated to the first line with countryman Tuomo Ruutu on his left and the recently-returned Erik Cole on his right.

”Jokinen has always had the handset and the brain set to play a lot of time, but what happens is that maybe he doesn’t get to play with people that are best able to utilize some of his skills,” said Maurice. “He’s going to get the chance now. He’s got some speed and some size on his wings, and he’s got a real comfort level with Ruutu.”

That move caused some additional shuffling of the lines, the extent of which can be found here. Staal should be the only injury-related absence from the lineup, as defenseman Tim Gleason is expected to return after missing the last five games with an upper-body concern of his own.

Despite the team’s struggles, the tempo of Tuesday’s practice and the mood in the locker room afterwards were remarkably upbeat, perhaps due to an off-day Monday in which the team could clear their heads. The conference standings on the locker room marker board, normally updated daily by hand, had been wiped completely clean, which could be symbolic of a start-from-the-beginning mentality.

“Physical positioning is one thing, but the mental attitude within the position is far more important,” said Maurice.

Although it’s proven difficult to pinpoint exact reasons for the Hurricanes’ struggles – on second thought, a simple “everything” would suffice at times – the team today put their focus on playing more cohesively as a unit.

“That’s it 100 percent,” said Matt Cullen. “We’ve not been on the same page for whatever reason.”

“(We’re trying) to get more of five men moving at the same time,” said Maurice. “What we have right now is one guy sort of moving and everybody else totally waiting to see what the result of that movement is before we go. Then, your team starts to look slower.”

It would be fitting for the Canes to break the lengthy losing streak against Florida, which is the last team they managed to beat way back on October 9 by a score of 7-2. That win clearly did little to jumpstart a team that had already experience some struggles at that point, which has Maurice hoping for a different type of victory.

”We’ll take a 7-2, don’t get me wrong, but what we need is a grind win and a tight game at the end where we come out on top because we did the same things over and over again with great speed and great confidence,” said Maurice. “If you get lucky around the net or your goaltender stands on his head, I don’t think you bring much confidence out of that into the next night. Certainly we’re not turning down anything with a W in it, but we need to win a certain way to get the real confidence back in that room.”


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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
3 NYI 62 40 20 2 200 173 82
4 TBL 62 37 19 6 203 167 80
5 DET 60 34 15 11 176 156 79
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 62 33 19 10 184 156 76
8 BOS 60 29 22 9 158 158 67
9 FLA 61 26 22 13 145 172 65
10 PHI 62 26 25 11 164 181 63
11 OTT 59 26 23 10 167 161 62
12 NJD 61 25 27 9 137 161 59
13 CBJ 60 26 30 4 157 189 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 59 22 30 7 134 159 51
16 BUF 62 19 38 5 120 207 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 59 11 27 -16 38
E. Staal 54 18 18 -9 36
E. Lindholm 58 11 15 -16 26
J. Skinner 54 15 9 -16 24
R. Nash 56 7 14 -9 21
N. Gerbe 55 6 14 -13 20
A. Sekera 57 2 17 -7 19
V. Rask 57 8 10 -18 18
J. McClement 59 4 12 1 16
J. Staal 23 4 11 -1 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 16 19 4 .914 2.35
A. Khudobin 6 11 3 .901 2.73