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Canes' Last Big Trip a Tough One

Monday, 02.7.2011 / 3:14 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Canes\' Last Big Trip a Tough One
The Hurricanes will soon see the road-heavy first half of their schedule even out over the stretch drive, but not before enduring a very difficult trip over the next week.

Paul Branecky
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On Tuesday, the Canes begin a four-game swing that won’t see them return home until Sunday night. In addition to playing Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, the Eastern Conference’s top two seeds through Sunday’s games, they’ll also face a resurgent New Jersey team before wrapping things up against Atlanta - their main competition for a playoff spot over the last several weeks.

“We’re going to play some very difficult teams,” said coach Paul Maurice. “(Knowing) how to play these important games on the road is a necessity for a team that wants that playoff success. You have to be able to win very tight games against good opponents on the road.”

The trip kicks off against a Devils team that endured a nightmare start to the season but has righted the ship since bringing back former coach Jacques Lemaire. The Devils are 9-1-2 in their last 12 games, but won’t have starting goaltender Martin Brodeur (knee) available to face Carolina on Tuesday, with Johan Hedberg expected to start.

The scheduling of the season series is unfortunate for the Hurricanes, who faced the Devils just once during their difficult first half – a 6-3 victory on New Year’s Day – but will see them three times over the next 12 days now that they’re at the top of their game. After this trip, the Canes will only be in Raleigh for two days before leaving for New Jersey once again.

“That’s the way we’ve played them for the last 10 years – at their best it seems,” said Maurice. “We missed the two and a half months where they had a bit of a struggle, and now we get them back as normal.”

The trip wraps up Sunday against the Thrashers, who will be waiting at home while the Canes take on Tampa Bay one night earlier.

“There’s only one back-to-back in it, but unfortunately it’s at the end with the team that we’re tied with,” said Maurice.

As daunting as this trip may seem, the Hurricanes can take comfort in that it will be their last prolonged period away from home for the rest of the season. Once they’re back, 17 of their remaining 25 games will be at the RBC Center, with only single-game road trips remaining on either side of longer home stretches.

The team will also be glad to bring some confidence with them, as they’ll depart on a high note following Saturday’s big overtime win against the Atlanta Thrashers. Had they faltered in that game and continued to find themselves out of playoff position, things may have been more difficult.

“That’s the kind of win you want to build off and take momentum from,” said Eric Staal. “As a whole, it was a playoff-type game that we battled through.”

It looks as though the Canes will be without Jussi Jokinen for the duration of the trip, with coach Paul Maurice saying that he did not expect the Finnish forward to leave with the team on Monday. That means Zach Boychuk, who played limited minutes on the fourth line in the Canes’ last game but played well, will get a longer look.

Other than Jokinen, Tuomo Ruutu was the only player to miss practice on Monday. Maurice said that his second-line center had been feeling ill but is not expected to miss any games.

“Anytime now at this point in the season when someone’s feeling a little under the weather, you try have them spend as little time with the rest of the team as possible,” said Maurice. “He was feeling probably worse Saturday night and played.”


SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81