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Wild vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Canes, Thrashers Begin Intense Miniseries

Saturday, 03.27.2010 / 11:49 AM / 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 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
3 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 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