Tracking the Storm

Gameday: Hurricanes vs. Stars

Monday, 11.29.2010 / 12:31 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Gameday: Hurricanes vs. Stars
Being so far outside of the rest of their game preparation, shootouts aren’t something that coaching staffs typically spend a ton of time planning for. Unless they become a problem, that is.

Paul Branecky
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The Hurricanes, who have lost their last three shootouts after winning one in their second game of the season against Minnesota in Helsinki, may be approaching that point. Most recently, they dropped a 3-2 decision Sunday night in Washington that denied them the full two points following a two-goal comeback.

With all three shootout losses coming in the last five games, coach Paul Maurice suggested that a change in personnel could come as soon as tonight’s home game against Dallas, if necessary.

“We’ve talked about it,” he said.

A problem is that Maurice, who typically prefers experienced players in the shootout, doesn’t have much to choose from outside of his standard three of Jeff Skinner, Jussi Jokinen and Tuomo Ruutu, who have shot in that order this season. The next in line could be Sergei Samsonov, who has converted six of 20 career chances (30 percent). That’s still less than Skinner (2-4, 50 percent), Jokinen (26-54, 48 percent) and Ruutu (8-19, 42 percent).

After those four players, only four others have ever scored a shootout goal, with either the sample size too small or the percentages too low to be significant. They are Erik Cole (1-5, 20 percent), Joe Corvo (1-3, 33 percent), Chad LaRose (1-1, 100 percent) and Eric Staal (2-13, 15 percent).

“You look at guys that have done it before that haven’t had an opportunity lately and maybe give those guys a chance,” said Maurice. “The risk you run is that the guys you’re pulling haven’t had the confidence but have had success with it.”

One such player is Jokinen, who has a reputation around the league as one of its best shootout performers and the stats to prove it, even though he’s been struggling lately. After Sunday’s miss against the Capitals’ Semyon Varlamov, Jokinen has missed seven consecutive attempts, with his last goal coming all the way back on Nov. 19, 2009 against Toronto.

While Jokinen should still figure to get the benefit of the doubt the next time the need arises, Maurice could turn to Samsonov, who scored a key goal in a shootout win over San Jose last season, give Staal another try or hand an opporunity to a less-experienced player, even though he prefers to go with established percentages.

“It’s a specific skill and it’s something that has to be practiced,” said Maurice, adding that this year’s team has spent more time on it in practice than in previous years. “The people that have experience with it usually get that opportunity.”

Despite the odds of having so many in such a short time, another shootout should not be ruled out for tonight, as Maurice believes the game against Dallas will be tightly-played as both teams play their third game in four nights. The Stars have won three in a row, including both during a home-and-home series with St. Louis that concluded Saturday, and watched on TV from Raleigh as the Hurricanes visited the nation’s capital.

“They’ve played some hockey too, (but) it’s an advantage that they rested last night,” said Maurice of the Stars. “The natural human tendency is to come off it a little bit and find an easier way to do it because it gets so hard. What they want to do is come out and grind you to the point where you don’t want to play that kind of game anymore.”

Kari Lehtonen, who the Hurricanes know well from his days in Atlanta (with 11 losses, no team has bested him more than Carolina) is epected to get the start in goal opposite Cam Ward. Lehtonen, the Thrasher’s second overall draft choice in 2002, has reportedly improved his conditioning to the point where he’s played in 19 of Dallas’ 22 games while avoiding the injury problems that plagued him in the Southeast Division.

Tonight’s game marks the first of two meetings between the two teams this season. The Canes are set to visit Dallas on Dec. 10, which is an unusually short amount of time for cross-conference opponents not participating in a European Premiere event. Carolina has had much better luck in the home leg, historically, having posted a 6-1-0 record against Dallas at the RBC Center, while they have only beaten the Stars just once in Dallas since they relocated from Minnesota in 1993.


SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

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