Tracking the Storm

Gameday: Canes vs. Toronto

Friday, 11.6.2009 / 11:22 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Gameday: Canes vs. Toronto
Despite some encouraging signs, the Canes are coming off yet another loss. The challenge now will be to build on that rather than take a step back.

Paul Branecky
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The most frustrating element of the team’s current slide is that the “moral victories” that pop up on occasion tend to disappear just as quickly. Good things the team took away from the third-period comeback against Pittsburgh weren’t present a few nights later in New Jersey, and signs of life on the three-game road trip were dead by the time the team returned home to face St. Louis.

After the most recent loss in Florida that pushed the winless streak to double digits, the Hurricanes now find themselves in a similar position. Can they play like they did in the first period of that game, in which they out-shot the Panthers 21-4, or will they struggle through tonight’s home game against Toronto and tomorrow’s road contest in Columbus?

“I thought that was far closer to the way we think we should look when we’re playing our game than at any other time,” said Coach Paul Maurice of the effort in Florida. “There was an awful lot more motion in that game and puck control, and that’s when we’re at our best.”

“The breaks didn’t happen but we’re going to get ours,” said Sergei Samsonov. “That’s the best we’ve moved as a team on the ice, and I think it’s a positive sign.”

Although the Hurricanes were prepared to play without Tuomo Ruutu and Ray Whitney tonight, both took part in today’s morning skate and have a chance to play, although Ruutu seems to be the better bet.

“Everyone has come in better than we thought they would from last night,” said Maurice. “They’ll get through the morning skate today, see how they come back to the rink today and then we’ll decide at game time.”

With so much uncertainty about who will be in the lineup, it’s very difficult to say who will play where (hence the lack of updates to the depth chart). Even if Ruutu and Whitney can play, there could be another spot at forward open, as Tim Conboy has moved back to defense for each of the team’s last two practices with Niclas Wallin sidelined.

In any event, I would expect Zach Boychuk to find his way into the lineup somehow, as the Canes seem eager to give their former first-round pick an opportunity following his recall yesterday.

“We’ll bring these guys in and we’ll play them,” said Maurice after Thursday’s practice. “We’ll play them and give them a chance.”

The loser of tonight’s game will carry the dubious honor of being the NHL’s worst team. Although the teams are currently level with seven points, Toronto holds the tiebreaker for having played one fewer game.

Tonight’s contest will be just the second of the season for off-season acquisition Phil Kessel, who spent October recovering from shoulder surgery. Although he did not score in his Leafs debut, the team’s most potent offensive threat posted a career-high 10 shots on goal.

Defenseman Tomas Kaberle leads Toronto in scoring with an impressive 17 points in 13 games, and was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week after his 12-points-in-four-games performance.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72