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Wild vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Lines so Crazy, They Might Work

Sunday, 12.27.2009 / 1:01 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Lines so Crazy, They Might Work
Paul Maurice has been very creative this season when it comes to arranging his forward unit. If the Canes three-goal third-period rally against Philadelphia on Saturday was any indication, he may be on to something.

Paul Branecky
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In that game, the team’s comeback effort was led by the trio of Matt Cullen at center with Jussi Jokinen and Eric Staal on the wings. While natural positions are getting harder and harder to define, those three players have predominantly been used at centers up until now.

However, while that grouping may seem odd, the results spoke for themselves.

“I liked where our top six [forwards] were at after those changes,” said Maurice. “How it gets into the game and if we move somebody around, we’ll do that on a weekly basis, but I wouldn’t mind seeing this run for a while.”

Staal started the game on the left wing with Jokinen at center and Patrick Dwyer on the right, but moved over to the right wing himself about halfway through the Philadelphia contest. Despite playing all three forward positions in the span of just two games, Staal seemed to find a comfort level on the right side.

“It’s obviously different than center, but once you get going you start to feel more comfortable,” he said. “I thought with Jussi and Cullen we started to create some offense and went on the attack with some speed and score some goals, and hopefully that will continue.”

According to both Maurice and Staal, the right wing position is the easiest forward position to play because it requires less defensive responsibility and neutral-zone work than at center or on the left. They believe putting Staal in that situation will help free him up to do more on the offensive end.

“It really allows you to go skate and be aggressive on the forecheck,” said Maurice. “It allows him to use his speed, and I thought when he went there he looked like the fella that we’ve seen before,”

“On the right there’s less thinking and more skating, and that’s my game with being on the move and using my legs to create open ice,” said Staal. “The right side suits my game better and I felt a lot better there in the third period.”

While Staal’s immediate future for his club and potentially his country during the Olympics lies on the wing, he was quick to point out that he hopes the move is temporary, and that he can return to center for the long haul.

“I don’t think this is a permanent thing,” said. “I much prefer center, but under the circumstances right now this is where I’m going to play. I felt pretty good out there, and the main thing for us is winning games.”

Having three centers on one line created an opening on the third line, which Patrick Dwyer is currently filling. Dwyer said he played his first few years as a professional at center and has a comfort level there, even though he has predominantly played on the wing.

That move and others (view full lines here), leave only three or four forwards on the Hurricanes roster that have played in one position all season. That’s likely to continue in the future, with Maurice indicated he might use Tuomo Ruutu at Center once Erik Cole returns to the lineup, which will hopefully occur in early January.

”There’s a lot of different options with those guys, and we’re trying to think outside of the box a little bit here and not continue hammer the same things when a guy’s just not scoring,” said Maurice.


SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYI 65 41 21 3 207 182 85
3 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
4 TBL 65 39 20 6 213 171 84
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 65 35 20 10 193 162 80
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 64 28 23 13 156 181 69
10 PHI 64 27 25 12 170 186 66
11 OTT 61 27 23 11 173 166 65
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 64 26 33 5 173 195 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 62 12 28 -18 40
E. Staal 57 18 20 -12 38
E. Lindholm 61 11 16 -18 27
J. Skinner 57 16 10 -17 26
N. Gerbe 58 7 16 -10 23
R. Nash 59 7 15 -10 22
V. Rask 60 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 62 6 13 3 19
J. Staal 26 4 12 -4 16
A. Nestrasil 34 4 11 4 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 20 4 .911 2.43
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .905 2.61