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Canes Use Break to Regroup

Monday, 11.15.2010 / 2:28 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Canes Use Break to Regroup
The Hurricanes’ current three-day break between games, their first since before opening night at the RBC Center, couldn’t have come at a better time.

Paul Branecky
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Not only is it a brief time out from their previous two games that saw them outscored by a combined total of 15-3, but it’s a rare chance to have tough practices designed to reinforce some of the elements they’ve been lacking.

“It’s difficult to take a team playing every second night, work on grinding defensive parts of the game and expect them to have anything left,” said coach Paul Maurice after Monday’s session, which was noticeably geared more towards that particular aspect. “Clearly it’s an area that we have failed in our last two games.”

The Canes really didn’t practice at all during a recent stretch in late October and early November, at one point going 12 days without hitting the ice for any extended period of time outside of games and pregame skates. They took this past Sunday off, practiced hard Monday and should do so again on Tuesday before they host Ottawa the following night.

“It’s nice to have a couple of days at home to be able to be on the ice together and work on things that will help our game and make us more consistent,” said Eric Staal.

That isn’t to say that Monday’s practice was over an hour of pure punishment, although it did feature plenty of skating and battling.

“We’ve seen so many times with young teams that if you crush them on their mistakes, then you will have a year of very difficult time,” said Maurice. “We have things we have to work on, but you have to be careful about taking the confidence out of your hockey club.”

When asked to point out the main differences between the last two games and the two prior to that against Edmonton and Florida, arguably two of their best this season, Staal, like Maurice, also cited the team’s defensive efforts.

“We’ve given up some chances that we shouldn’t with some of the puck decisions that we’re making, and right now they’re costing us and ending up as goals, not just chances against,” he said. “We’ll work at it here this week and look forward to playing Ottawa.”

To that point, Maurice said that goaltender Cam Ward has not been as sharp as he was earlier in the season, having been pulled midway through each of his last two starts and stopping just 27 of his last 35 shots against. Few of those can be placed directly on him, but he also hasn’t been covering mistakes the way his coach now expects him to.

“He’s learning what it’s like to have to be very good to great every night, but he is that good,” said Maurice. “There is pressure on him to do that.”

“I’m just like everybody else,” said Ward. “I’ve got to hold myself accountable and come up with the big saves.”

Short of making a call to Charlotte of the American Hockey League, the Canes have just one option for a lineup change, which they play to use Wednesday. Maurice said that Patrick O’Sullivan will play just his sixth game of the season and first since Oct. 30, with Jiri Tlusty expected to sit out.

“Sully has sat and watched enough hockey,” said Maurice. “I just have always wanted to make sure if we started taking guys out there was a reason for it.”

The move will bump Jussi Jokinen, who has been on the fourth line recently, back into the top nine. The versatile Finn had two assists in Montreal on Saturday and was one of just two Carolina players to emerge with a positive plus/minus rating (Tom Kostopoulos being the other).

Much like Sergei Samsonov before him, it seems that he has begun to earn his way back to a scoring role through hard work.

“Jokinen is an interesting guy,” said Maurice. “He did not get off to the start … with 30 goals he probably thought it would be a little different, but boy, I think he’s handled it well.”


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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
5 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
6 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
7 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
12 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
15 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 54 15 19 -13 34
J. Skinner 54 19 12 -3 31
V. Rask 52 12 19 0 31
J. Staal 54 12 19 8 31
K. Versteeg 53 10 21 1 31
E. Staal 54 9 21 0 30
E. Lindholm 54 8 16 -9 24
A. Nestrasil 47 7 12 0 19
J. Nordstrom 43 5 9 2 14
R. Hainsey 54 3 11 -11 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 15 11 6 .908 2.38
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74
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