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Wild vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Gameday: Canes vs. Toronto

Friday, 11.06.2009 / 11:22 AM / 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 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYI 63 41 20 2 202 174 84
3 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
4 TBL 63 38 19 6 207 167 82
5 DET 60 34 15 11 176 156 79
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 63 33 20 10 184 159 76
8 BOS 61 30 22 9 161 160 69
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 62 25 27 10 139 164 60
13 CBJ 60 26 30 4 157 189 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 60 23 30 7 137 159 53
16 BUF 62 19 38 5 120 207 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 60 11 28 -14 39
E. Staal 55 18 18 -9 36
E. Lindholm 59 11 16 -15 27
J. Skinner 55 16 9 -15 25
R. Nash 57 7 15 -8 22
N. Gerbe 56 7 14 -11 21
V. Rask 58 8 11 -16 19
J. McClement 60 4 12 1 16
J. Staal 24 4 11 -1 15
A. Semin 36 2 12 -8 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 16 19 4 .914 2.35
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .906 2.60