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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 - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81