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Gameday: Hurricanes vs. New York Islanders

Wednesday, 11.3.2010 / 11:44 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Gameday: Hurricanes vs. New York Islanders
Though the Hurricanes aren’t yet concerned about their ability to score goals moving forward, they have made some changes that they believe will help them net their first at the RBC Center tonight.

Paul Branecky
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In order to break their 120-minute home goal drought to start the season, coach Paul Maurice has moved 18-year-old Jeff Skinner to the left wing with Eric Staal and Chad LaRose. That unites the team’s top two scorers in Skinner (8 points) and Staal (7).

“We didn’t create enough offense over the last couple of games, so this is a little bit of a change,” said Staal. “(Skinner)’s a great offensive guy with great offensive instincts, and we’ll see how it goes tonight.”

“He controls the puck really well on offense,” said Maurice of Skinner. “He has a great offensive instinct to find people or take it to the net himself, he can hang on to the puck and he makes very few mistakes. He’s just a real good player, and the fact of the matter is that he’s our leading scorer.”

The move breaks up the successful line of Skinner, Tuomo Ruutu and Erik Cole that accounted for all four of the Hurricanes’ goals against the New York Rangers last Friday. According to Maurice, that’s the point.

“We’re going to look at moving different people around to get a little more offense on more than one line,” he said.

Maurice said that shifting could continue during the game tonight, particularly at the left wing position. All four players at that position switched lines heading into Wednesday’s morning skate, with Jussi Jokinen now on Ruutu’s line, Jiri Tlusty with Brandon Sutter and Sergei Samsonov with Jon Matsumoto. Full lines can be found here.

The team’s lineup will include defenseman Joni Pitkanen, who was questionable with an upper-body injury but took the morning skate and will play against the Islanders tonight.

Even though the Hurricanes’ next goal in their own building will be their first, it doesn’t seem as though that’s weighing on their minds at this point.

“We’re not thinking about that now and we shouldn’t be thinking about it,” said Chad LaRose. “We’re getting a lot of chances here, and when we get one I’m sure the floodgates are going to open.”

“I don’t think it has to be like that yet,” said Maurice. “We’ve gotten enough chances, and I don’t think we feel like we’re starved for goals to the point that we would get nervous or change our game.”

The question of whether the Canes will be able to generate enough offense long-term was a question even before the season started, but they’ve had enough games where they’ve scored four or even five goals to cancel out the goose eggs at home. However, it is something that management will continue to monitor moving forward.

“Those are the things you have to watch,” said General Manager Jim Rutherford. “Once we have as many home games as away games, I’ll have a better idea of how that shakes down. We’ve generated a lot of good scoring chances and certainly had the opportunity to score.”

Tonight, the Canes will match up against a talented young team not unlike themselves. John Tavares, the 2009 No. 1 overall draft choice, is building on a solid rookie season and is looking to take the next step towards becoming an elite player. He’s a point-per-game player on the season, but his -8 rating is tied for last place on the team.

Like Skinner, defenseman James Wisniewski ranks along some of the most surprising players to lead their teams in scoring thus far. He has 11 points in 9 games, having missed 2 contests due to suspension for a lewd gesture.

“We’re both going to try to play the same game,” said Maurice. “I’m not sure we’re going to be able to deliver quite as much speed as they will tonight, but with effective puck managing hopefully we can stay with that speed and get some pucks to the net.”

The Hurricanes are 13-3-3 in the last 19 meetings between the two teams, and have not suffered a regulation loss in the last eight (6-0-2). Those two overtime losses came last season, as the Islanders defeated Carolina in that manner in the first two meetings of the season series.


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