Tracking the Storm

Gameday: Canes vs. Buffalo

Thursday, 02.11.2010 / 11:48 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Gameday: Canes vs. Buffalo
While the Canes have been going through their best stretch of the season of late, the Buffalo Sabres are experiencing their worst. 

Paul Branecky
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Tonight’s visitors have just two wins in their last 11 games, including a current five-game winless streak. Carolina contributed to that run, having won in Buffalo just last Friday. Thanks to their strong start, the Sabres still find themselves atop the Northeast Division by way of a tiebreaker, but a hard charge by the Ottawa Senators should result in a desperate team on the ice tonight.

The recent struggles have resulted in some ice time adjustments, as defenseman Craig Rivet, the team’s captain, played a season-low 8:58 in Tuesday’s shootout loss to Boston, well below his average of 19:07. Additionally, leading goal-scorer Thomas Vanek was dropped to a checking line at Wednesday’s practice in an attempt to provide more scoring balance throughout the lineup and create match-up problems for the Hurricanes.

While acknowledging that the moves will prove somewhat tricky, Carolina coach Paul Maurice is confident that his forward lines are up to the challenge defensively, and that any of the top three units could serve as his primary “shut down” line if need be.

 “It’s been a long time, probably since before Brandon (Sutter) came in, (that we played Eric) Staal against the other team’s best,” said Maurice. “We’ve kind of gotten away from that, and it’s been good because Sutter and Cullen’s lines have been pretty solid defensively.”

Maurice said there would likely be a bit of a feeling-out process early in the game as he works to identify which Sabres line looks most dangerous and which Hurricanes like looks most capable of slowing them down.

“That’s going to be our challenge,” he said. “We’ll find early in the game which line is going for us and try to work with that.”

Although Scott Walker practiced today in a normal red jersey rather than a non-contact version for the first time, Maurice reiterated his earlier stance that no injured players are likely to return prior to the Olympic break. Erik Cole continued to skate in a non-contact jersey, while Chad LaRose got some work in before the main group took the ice.

Manny Legace will start in goal for the second consecutive game, with Justin Peters set to start Saturday.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72