Stanley Cup Celebration
Tracking the Storm
 
  • PRINT
  • RSS

Gameday: Hurricanes vs. Panthers

A 'Clean Slate' for the Canes

Tuesday, 11.29.2011 / 1:48 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
X
Share with your Friends


Gameday: Hurricanes vs. Panthers

Kirk Muller will be behind the bench for his first National Hockey League game as a head coach tonight when the Hurricanes take on the visiting Florida Panthers.

Michael Smith
Follow on Twitter
Hosting the sixth best road team in the league and the Southeast Division leaders will be no easy task for Muller in game one. But, his message to the team this morning was simple.

“It’s a clean slate,” he said. “Where we want to start with is our effort, our commitment, our accountability and our energy.”

For the players, this morning was their first opportunity to meet with the new coach. Though Muller’s excitement was contagious in the locker room, there were lingering mixed feelings.

“There are a lot of different emotions, obviously,” Eric Staal said. “There’s disappointment in seeing a good coach be relieved, and then there’s excitement in a new face and new voice.”

Staal said Muller had an impressive playing resume, and he hopes that he can learn a lot from someone who played over 1,300 games in the league.

“I love the type of game he played as a player,” Staal said. “He was hard-nosed, hard-working, very honest two-way. I can hopefully lean on some of that.”

Brandon Sutter also had a strong impression of the new coach.

“It was nice to meet him, and from that point forward, he seemed like a great guy,” Sutter said. “He knows a lot about the game. He’s got new ideas, and it’s a fresh face.”

The Canes hope that having a fresh face in the room will help shift the tides in what has been a disappointing season thus far. The Canes sit at 8-13-4 (20 points), which puts them at 14th in the Eastern Conference. With only four wins in what has been a busy November schedule, the team needs to start winning now should they look to make a push for the postseason.

“It’s definitely not too late. We’ve still got a good portion of the season left,” Sutter said. “It’s a fresh start, so we want to get it going as soon as we can.”

Tonight, they’ll look to get it going versus an up-start Panthers team that, after acquiring 12 new players during the off-season, now leads the Southeast Division at 12-7-4 (28 points). It’s the first time the Canes will see the new-look Panthers, who are coached by former Hurricane Kevin Dineen.

Kris Versteeg (12g, 14a), Tomas Fleischmann (10g, 13a) and Stephen Weiss (8g, 14a) have combined for 71 of their active roster’s 166 total points. None of those players has had point-per-game success against the Canes. But, Carolina will need to be sound defensively, especially after the last three games which have featured numerous breakdowns that have led to goals in front of Cam Ward.

At the conclusion of this morning’s skate, Muller and Staal had an extended conversation at center ice. There was an attentive focus, a good amount of hand gesturing and even a few smiles to wrap things up.

“I just said to him, ‘I don’t need you to be superman. I just want you to go out here tonight and be my hardest-working player. Play hard, have fun and enjoy the game,’” Muller said about the conversation. “If he’s a better player and 19 other guys out there are better tonight than they were yesterday, then we’re a better team.”

“I’m excited to get to know him and learn from him as we go forward,” Staal said, “and it starts here tonight.”

NOTES: Lines remained the same from Sunday night ... For a visual look at those combinations, click here ... Muller wouldn't say who would be the healthy scratch on defense tonight, saying we'd have to wait until game time ... Jay Harrison skated briefly at the tail-end of this morning's session ... Harrison said today was a "yardstick" to see how he felt, as he takes his injury day-by-day ... Andreas Nodl could be in Raleigh for tonight's game, but it will be unknown whether he is in the lineup until game time.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

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
Alumni Game