Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google
Capitals vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Positives Easy to Find

Wednesday, 02.10.2010 / 1:58 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
X
Share with your Friends


Positives Easy to Find
At one point this season, it would have been difficult to come up with one single thing that had gone right for the Hurricanes. That task has proven to be much easier these days.

Paul Branecky
Index | Archive
Prior to January, the team had not experienced a three-game winning streak all season. Monday night’s victory ensured that they would have their third such run since the calendar turned to 2010. Since January 21, they’ve won eight of their last 11 games, which is by far their best stretch of hockey this year.

As to what’s changed or why things seem to be working better now than they did in the past, coach Paul Maurice couldn’t put his finger on one particular area.

“I don’t think it’s fair to do that, because a lot of parts of our game have come together,” he said. “I do think Eric [Staal] getting healthy has been a huge part of that. We’ve added a forward – [Chad LaRose] came earlier and that made a big difference, and now [Tuomo] Ruutu comes in and that makes a big difference for us. We’ve had good goaltending.”

Maurice also mentioned much-improved special teams play. Over the last 11 contests, the Canes have converted at a 22 percent rate on the power play, which would contend for the league lead if maintained for the season.

Even more impressively, the team has allowed just three power play goals over that stretch, posting a stellar 93 percent clip on the penalty kill. To put that number in perspective, the Buffalo Sabres, who come to the RBC Center this Thursday evening, paced the NHL with an 86.9 percent shorthanded success rate as of Wednesday afternoon.

Rather than any tactical changes made, Maurice pointed to the relative continuity in the lineup as a reason for the resurgent special teams. There are still significant injuries, but there has not been as much turnover on a day-to-day basis as there was in the first half.

“At the end, the difference in most of these games is if you can shut the other team out on the power play and you can get one, you’re in a great spot,” he said. “A big part of this is having the same five guys come off the bench.”

For those keeping score, one could now claim health, dominant performances by star players, goaltending and special teams as positives surrounding the team right now, which again, are four more things then one could have come up with in October and November.

More than anything else, it could just be that players are having fun again, which is evident both on the ice and behind the scenes.

”When you get a good feeling, you really enjoy it and the confidence is back,” said Maurice after Wednesday’s practice at the RecZone. “On a day like today, if you came off three losses it would be tougher sledding out there. Today we’ve won three, so the puck is lighter and you feel a little bit better about yourself.”

This isn’t to suggest that the Hurricanes are rolling around in four-leaf clovers. There are still significant concerns about goaltender Cam Ward’s back, while Erik Cole has been out for much longer than originally projected.

Cole continued to practice with the team in a non-contact jersey Wednesday, as did Scott Walker. Ward is still a few weeks away from a definitive prognosis.

In Ward’s absence, Maurice said that Manny Legace would start Thursday’s game following a strong performance against Florida two days earlier. Justin Peters would then make his second career NHL start on Saturday against the New Jersey Devils, which is the team’s final game before the two-week Olympic break.

Since Ward’s injury, Legace and Peters have combined to post a 3-0-0 record, .942 save percentage and 1.67 goals-against average.


SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
3 NYI 62 40 20 2 200 173 82
4 TBL 62 37 19 6 203 167 80
5 DET 60 34 15 11 176 156 79
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 62 33 19 10 184 156 76
8 BOS 60 29 22 9 158 158 67
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 61 25 27 9 137 161 59
13 CBJ 60 26 30 4 157 189 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 59 22 30 7 134 159 51
16 BUF 62 19 38 5 120 207 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 59 11 27 -16 38
E. Staal 54 18 18 -9 36
E. Lindholm 58 11 15 -16 26
J. Skinner 54 15 9 -16 24
R. Nash 56 7 14 -9 21
N. Gerbe 55 6 14 -13 20
A. Sekera 57 2 17 -7 19
V. Rask 57 8 10 -18 18
J. McClement 59 4 12 1 16
J. Staal 23 4 11 -1 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 16 19 4 .914 2.35
A. Khudobin 6 11 3 .901 2.73