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Gameday: Hurricanes vs. Lightning

2011-12 Season Picks Up Right Where 10-11 Left Off

Friday, 10.07.2011 / 11:58 AM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith

In game 82 of the 2010-11 season, the then already-playoff-bound Tampa Bay Lightning came to Raleigh to face off with the playoff-hungry Carolina Hurricanes in the season finale.

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In order to reach the postseason, all the Canes had to do was win. Backed by a partisan home crowd in a do or die game against a familiar division opponent, what could go wrong?

A lot did. The Bolts thrashed the Hurricanes 6-2 in a game that just never felt right, even when Chad LaRose brought the Canes within striking distance at 4-2 about midway through the third period.

Two days shy of exactly six months later, the two teams meet again in game one of the 2011-12 season. A fresh start. A clean slate.

The players – including the ones who weren’t here at the conclusion of last season – were clearly excited to get the season underway. The short skate this morning was vocal and quick-paced.

Hurricanes head coach Paul Maurice was also visibly eager for the season to begin.

“This is exciting,” he said. “It’s funny. You almost forget about it. You know it’s going to be exciting, and then you get to that day and it’s Christmas Eve again. You’re just excited about the fresh start, and everybody’s optimistic and feeling good.”

In this morning’s brief skate, the Canes did not reveal any of their lines, but Maurice said they would start with the same combinations seen yesterday.

“I think we are set up to be good the way we are, and there are options to move people around to present a different look to different teams,” he said.

With nine defenseman on their active roster, three will sit tonight. Jamie McBain, Derek Joslin and Ryan Murphy will be healthy scratches. With a back-to-back set, we might see one of those break into the lineup tomorrow.

“There are three guys that desperately want to get into the lineup,” Maurice said. “We want to encourage that competition. We’re starting the six players that we feel are best prepared today to be good tonight through their camps and through their body of work they’ve done over the course of their NHL careers.”

With the lineup set and the players and coaching staff ready, all that is left is to play the game. If you’re coming out to the game tonight, be sure to check out the number of pre-game festivities going on in and around the RBC Center. There are some very special things planned before the face-off, which builds on the excitement already in place.

While a playoff berth isn’t directly on the line tonight, the stakes are still the same, as two points are up for grabs. Whether it’s game one or 82, those points are always valuable.

“Every game is big, but there’s something on this one,” Maurice said. “Opening Night – you want to get on that good feeling, that good roll. Playing the team that knocked you out, you have a little more bite in your step, and they’re aware of it. It’s going to be a great game tonight.”





1 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
2 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
3 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
4 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
5 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
6 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
7 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
8 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79


E. Staal 79 21 40 -13 61
J. Skinner 71 33 21 -14 54
A. Sekera 74 11 33 4 44
A. Semin 65 22 20 1 42
J. Staal 82 15 25 2 40
J. Faulk 76 5 27 -9 32
N. Gerbe 81 16 15 -6 31
J. Tlusty 68 16 14 2 30
R. Nash 73 10 14 0 24
P. Dwyer 75 8 14 -2 22
A. Khudobin 19 14 1 .926 2.30
C. Ward 10 12 6 .898 3.06