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Blues vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Canes Get Unusual Break

Wednesday, 12.01.2010 / 12:57 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Canes Get Unusual Break
As crazy as the Hurricanes’ schedule was in the opening months of the season, they’ll finally get some relief in December.

Paul Branecky
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The Canes are currently two days in to their lightest stretch of the season, playing just two games in 10 days. That includes a three-day break between Monday’s loss to Dallas and Friday’s game against Colorado, and another five-day pause following a Saturday contest in Nashville.

While coach Paul Maurice may prefer to spread the weekend’s back-to-back set out more evenly, the off days will give him a chance to emphasize some key points.

“With a younger group, it’s not about teaching it once,” said Maurice. “It’s about hammering the fundamentals over and over and over again.”

As much as the teaching aspect, another important factor is the ability to have some tough practices featuring plenty of contact on what Maurice likes to call the “dark areas” in the corner and in front of the net at both ends of the ice. At times, that’s what has been lacking from the team’s game as they struggle to convert chances from in close or prevent rebound opportunities in front of Cam Ward and Justin Peters.

“We need to get back to that grind, offensively and defensively,” said Maurice.

The coach added that he’s noticed a difference in the team’s game after stretches when they’ve been able to have tougher practices, as they did Wednesday.  Following the Canes’ last three-day break, they posted their only three-game points streak of the season against Ottawa, Pittsburgh and Nashville.

“I thought we were better coming into each game where we’ve done it,” he said. “Anytime you run an even-strength drill there’s an offensive component to it, so I think we’ve had more jump offensively as well.”

Naturally, the break will be short-lived as January presents one of the tougher challenges yet, with games every other day, including a back-to-back, home-and-home set with the Boston Bruins thrown in for good measure.

Despite a month of November during which he scored 21 points (9g, 12a) in 14 games, Hurricanes center Eric Staal was not named one of the NHL’s three stars of the month, which were released Wednesday afternoon. He faced stiff competition, as the honors instead went to Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby (26 points), Montreal goaltender Carey Price (1.59 goals-against average, .952 save percentage) and Atlanta defenseman Dustin Byfuglien (17 points).

Although Staal may not have been recognized by the league, his coach nonetheless has an appreciation for his captain.

“He’s maturing,” said Maurice. “He had to balance the weight of our offensive game that he carries so much of with playing the minutes he does against sometimes the other team’s best. I think he’s come a long way with that.”

Erik Cole, who played on Staal’s wing briefly over the last few games before again switching places with Chad LaRose during the Dallas game, did not practice on Monday but is expected to hit the ice Thursday and be in the lineup over the weekend.


SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 50 31 15 4 163 132 66
2 MTL 47 31 13 3 127 108 65
3 NYI 48 32 15 1 157 135 65
4 DET 49 28 12 9 145 128 65
5 PIT 48 27 13 8 143 124 62
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 BOS 49 26 16 7 131 123 59
8 NYR 46 27 15 4 135 111 58
9 FLA 46 21 15 10 114 129 52
10 PHI 50 21 22 7 139 151 49
11 TOR 50 22 24 4 144 155 48
12 OTT 47 19 19 9 129 134 47
13 CBJ 47 21 23 3 119 148 45
14 NJD 48 18 22 8 109 135 44
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 49 14 32 3 92 174 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 42 16 14 -6 30
J. Faulk 47 9 19 -13 28
E. Lindholm 47 9 11 -11 20
J. Tlusty 40 12 7 -11 19
J. Skinner 42 10 9 -7 19
R. Nash 47 7 12 -4 19
N. Gerbe 43 5 13 -3 18
V. Rask 47 6 9 -10 15
A. Sekera 45 1 14 -6 15
C. Terry 34 6 3 -3 9
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 6 8 2 .918 2.30
C. Ward 11 17 3 .911 2.45