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Wild vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Gameday: Canes vs. Buffalo

Thursday, 02.11.2010 / 11:48 AM / 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

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 65 41 18 6 175 146 88
2 NYI 66 42 21 3 211 185 87
3 TBL 66 40 20 6 217 173 86
4 NYR 63 39 17 7 197 155 85
5 DET 62 36 15 11 182 160 83
6 PIT 63 36 18 9 182 158 81
7 WSH 66 35 21 10 194 164 80
8 BOS 63 31 22 10 168 165 72
9 FLA 65 28 23 14 159 185 70
10 PHI 65 28 25 12 173 187 68
11 OTT 62 28 23 11 176 167 67
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 65 26 34 5 175 199 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