Tracking the Storm

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 - 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