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Canes Get Unusual Break

Wednesday, 12.1.2010 / 12:57 PM ET / 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.


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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 53 31 16 6 143 118 68
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 TBL 52 29 19 4 138 123 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
8 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
9 NJD 54 26 21 7 120 122 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 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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