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Wild vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Canes Made it Interesting

Monday, 04.05.2010 / 3:01 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Canes Made it Interesting
The Hurricanes’ small glimmer of hope finally faded Saturday night, as the team’s loss to New Jersey, coupled with a victory by the Boston Bruins, officially ended any chance of a dream run to the playoffs.

Paul Branecky
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While the disappointment is still somewhat fresh, the team still has an appreciation of how they rebounded from the season’s dismal start. During the franchise-record-tying 14-game winless streak in October and November, mathematical elimination seemed just days away, not months. That they were able to stay in the running until the season’s final week, posting a 23-13-3 record in 2010, says something about their second half.

“I think with some of the things that were part of the environment, there were so many man games (lost to injury) earlier in the year,” said coach Paul Maurice. “Then the right decision was made that we would have to lose some of our guys (through trades) that we weren’t sure we were going to able to sign next year. 

“That had to happen when it happened, but to still be able to play as well with the kids that came in, I think that’s really good and it’s certainly made it easier for everybody to come to work.”

The kids have indeed been a bright spot, most notably Brandon Sutter. Originally recalled in October following Tuomo Ruutu’s suspension, he is now firmly entrenched as part of a one-two punch at center with Eric Staal for what figures to be many years.

Although Sutter is the most high-profile example, there are many others. In all, nine players aged 24 or younger played for the Hurricanes this season, six of whom were making their debuts with the organization.

“There’s questions of how many defensemen and how many forwards we’re going to need (in the offseason), but it would be so much more guesswork and hope,” said Maurice. “You’re looking at your center ice now and you know two of your pieces which is really important. Then you’ve got a defenseman (Jamie McBain) who offensively is almost right there, so those pieces are good.

“Having seen these players play, we have a far better appreciation for where they’re at right now and where they need to get to next year.”

While the focus has now shifted more towards 2010-11, there are still three games remaining in the current term. After an initial meeting with Tampa Bay, which is also out of the playoffs, the Canes will face two teams with plenty to play for in Montreal and Boston.

While acknowledging that things are a little different now, the Canes still hope to play at a high level this week.

 “It’s just businesslike,” said Maurice. “You worry about the emotional level more than anything else. The preparation won’t change, and I think it’s probably key that you keep doing the things that you’ve done because there’s still work to be done.”

“We’ll want to finish on a strong note, even though it’s difficult to know that you’re not going to make the playoffs,” said Cam Ward. “You see fans tailgating on the way in and think about how much fun it would be.”

Speaking of Ward, the Canes still plan to test out the goaltender’s back before the season is done, despite some encouraging early results. He will likely play in at least two, and possibly all three, of the team’s remaining games.

“The general idea is that the trainers would like to see him (play) more instead of tailoring him down,” said Maurice. “We’re just in the process of getting everyone’s opinion here on where his back is at, and then we’ll make a decision on how many of these last three he’s going to play.”

“Now I’m at the point where I feel like my old self,” said Ward. “I was happy with the way things went the last few games with my health, and I think we’re headed in the right direction.”


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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 62 41 16 5 171 135 87
2 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
3 NYR 61 38 17 6 192 152 82
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 61 24 30 7 142 162 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 61 12 28 -16 40
E. Staal 56 18 19 -10 37
E. Lindholm 60 11 16 -16 27
J. Skinner 56 16 10 -16 26
R. Nash 58 7 15 -9 22
N. Gerbe 57 7 15 -11 22
V. Rask 59 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 61 6 12 3 18
J. Staal 25 4 12 -2 16
A. Nestrasil 33 4 10 4 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 19 4 .913 2.37
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .906 2.60