Penguins vs. Hurricanes
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.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 74 46 20 8 195 162 100
2 NYR 72 46 19 7 219 167 99
3 TBL 74 46 21 7 242 191 99
4 NYI 74 44 25 5 226 205 93
5 PIT 73 40 22 11 202 181 91
6 DET 72 39 21 12 208 195 90
7 WSH 73 39 24 10 212 180 88
8 OTT 72 37 24 11 212 190 85
9 BOS 73 36 25 12 193 190 84
10 FLA 73 33 26 14 180 201 80
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 NJD 73 31 31 11 164 186 73
13 CBJ 73 34 35 4 198 228 72
14 CAR 72 26 36 10 165 199 62
15 TOR 74 27 41 6 193 237 60
16 BUF 73 20 46 7 138 245 47

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 72 14 31 -20 45
E. Staal 67 19 25 -14 44
E. Lindholm 71 16 19 -21 35
J. Skinner 67 18 12 -21 30
V. Rask 70 11 18 -13 29
R. Nash 66 8 16 -11 24
N. Gerbe 68 7 17 -13 24
J. McClement 72 6 13 -4 19
A. Nestrasil 44 6 13 4 19
J. Staal 36 4 14 -9 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 18 21 5 .910 2.44
A. Khudobin 8 15 5 .903 2.62