Tracking the Storm

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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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