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Wild vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Business as Usual for Canes

Monday, 03.28.2011 / 1:59 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Business as Usual for Canes
Although their playoff chances took a hit over the weekend, not much will change in how the Hurricanes go about their business for the time being.

Paul Branecky
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Saturday’s loss to Tampa Bay, combined with Buffalo’s win against New Jersey, has the Canes facing a five-point gap between their current position and playoff position with just seven games remaining. A head-to-head victory against the Sabres on April 3 would erase some of that, but they’ll need favorable results from around the league in addition to their own games.

In that sense, every game will be crucial, but that's nothing new for a team that’s been fighting for its life for the last several months.

“I don’t think it changes what we’re trying to do,” said Brandon Sutter. “We feel like we’re playing well so it’s frustrating that we’ve fallen behind, but we’ve just got to keep going and hope for the best.”

“It’s not clear cut and dry yet for who’s out and who’s in,” said coach Paul Maurice. “Five points is a lot to make up, but it’s not as much as when you have a head-to-head with them, which is good."

Saturday’s loss in Tampa Bay broke a three-game winning streak for the Canes, although that previous run still didn’t allow them to gain ground on the surging Sabres. A few isolated mistakes hurt them badly in their second game against the Lightning, but overall, they feel like they’re playing well enough to go on the type of run that would make things interesting down the stretch.

“(Tampa Bay) had two goals on lucky bounces and turnovers and another on the power play, but we didn’t really didn’t give them much at five-on-five,” said Sutter of Saturday’s game.

“We’ve just got to make sure that our focus isn’t on the standings, but it’s playing the kind of hockey that we’ve played the last two games that I liked an awful lot,” said Maurice.

In order to make up ground, the Canes will hope for better results on both sides of back-to-back games. The team currently boasts a 11-3-4 record in the first halves, but is just 6-11-1 in the second. That kind of split isn’t unusual, but with six of their remaining seven games part of back-to-back sets, improvement in the second day will be needed.

This week, the Canes visit Washington Tuesday before returning home to face Montreal Wednesday. Even though the sixth-place Canadiens sit seven points ahead of the Canes, they've been shut out in three consecutive losses, making them as likely of a target as any other team.

One positive for the Canes is what appears to be a healthy lineup. While Joe Corvo, Tim Gleason, Eric Staal and Cam Ward did not practice Monday, all should be available to face the Capitals. Joni Pitkanen, who missed Saturday’s game with an illness, practiced Monday.

Jamie McBain is also set to play both games of the back-to-back set if called upon after a successful return to the lineup over the weekend. While physical recovery is the most important thing, the 23-year-old blueliner added that he might be feeling more confident in his overall game now than before his two-week shoulder injury.

“Anytime you come back you’re a little bit nervous, but once I took that first hit I felt a lot more comfortable with where I was,” he said. “Having that birds-eye view (while sidelined) really helps you learn some things from other players that you maybe wouldn’t notice on the ice. Sometimes you have more times to make plays than you realize.”

With the team expected to have 13 forwards and seven defensemen in Washington, Maurice is looking at two healthy scratches, although he didn’t specify who those might be.

“We’ll make a decision tomorrow,” he said.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYI 65 41 21 3 207 182 85
3 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
4 TBL 65 39 20 6 213 171 84
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 65 35 20 10 193 162 80
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 64 28 23 13 156 181 69
10 PHI 64 27 25 12 170 186 66
11 OTT 61 27 23 11 173 166 65
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 64 26 33 5 173 195 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 62 12 28 -18 40
E. Staal 57 18 20 -12 38
E. Lindholm 61 11 16 -18 27
J. Skinner 57 16 10 -17 26
N. Gerbe 58 7 16 -10 23
R. Nash 59 7 15 -10 22
V. Rask 60 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 62 6 13 3 19
J. Staal 26 4 12 -4 16
A. Nestrasil 34 4 11 4 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 20 4 .911 2.43
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .905 2.61