Devils vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Business as Usual for Canes

Monday, 03.28.2011 / 1:59 PM ET / 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 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 CBJ 74 35 35 4 203 230 74
13 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 68 20 27 -13 47
J. Faulk 73 14 32 -18 46
E. Lindholm 72 16 20 -21 36
J. Skinner 68 18 12 -22 30
V. Rask 71 11 19 -12 30
R. Nash 67 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 69 7 17 -13 24
J. McClement 73 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 45 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 37 4 15 -9 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 19 21 5 .910 2.43
A. Khudobin 8 15 5 .903 2.62