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Canes, Thrashers Begin Intense Miniseries

Saturday, 03.27.2010 / 11:49 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Canes, Thrashers Begin Intense Miniseries
Whether you believe the Hurricanes are still in the fight or not, there’s no question that their next two games against Atlanta will have a big impact in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Paul Branecky
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The Thrashers are just two points behind Boston for the eighth and final playoff spot, with the New York Rangers barely in the rearview mirror. Carolina currently sits in 13th place, seven points behind the Bruins.

While Carolina will have to win every game regardless of who they play in the season’s last eight games, Atlanta presents a stiff test because the games are no less important to them.

”They should be the most intense games (left on the schedule), I think we’ll see that,” said Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice. “There should be some banging and a lot of fighting for pucks, and the team that gets up to pace as quick as it can is going to win the game.”

The Hurricanes will be looking to carry over the momentum of their recent shootout win over Washington, which marked the second time they had beaten the league-leading Capitals in one week. They’ve also bested the fourth-place Pittsburgh Penguins twice in March, although Maurice said he’s been more concerned about how his team plays against more workmanlike, gritty teams.

”Scratch and claw,” he said. “That is the National Hockey League in a nutshell, because beating Washington gives you no rights over the next game, especially when you get to teams that are just going to fight you right until the end. That’s a real important mental part of this game. It’s going to be a grind.”

Cam Ward will make his return to the lineup tonight, although he will start the game backing up Manny Legace. Ward is expected to start in the second half of the home-and-home series in Atlanta on Monday.

The Thrashers have had an interesting go of it since the Olympic Break. A relatively easy 4-0 Carolina win in Atlanta on March 7 was the second of a five-game losing streak for the Thrashers, who then seemingly fell out of playoff contention. However, they followed that up by earning points in six of their next seven games, including a four-game winning streak.

Still, they’ve been disappointed by flat performances at home in their last two games, a critical loss to the Bruins on Tuesday and an overtime defeat to Toronto on Thursday, which led coach John Anderson to call a closed-door meeting about the team’s intensity level.

That’s usually a recipe for a fiery performance in the following game. With so much on the line anyway, tonight’s match-up should live up to Maurice’s expectations.


SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81