Flyers vs. Hurricanes
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 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
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 74 37 25 12 216 199 86
10 FLA 75 34 26 15 186 205 83
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 75 31 32 12 167 192 74
14 CAR 74 28 36 10 173 202 66
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 69 21 28 -11 49
J. Faulk 74 15 32 -17 47
E. Lindholm 73 16 21 -19 37
J. Skinner 69 18 13 -21 31
V. Rask 72 11 20 -11 31
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 70 7 17 -13 24
J. McClement 74 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 46 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 38 4 16 -7 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 20 21 5 .911 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 15 5 .903 2.62