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Canes Battling Injuries, Consistency

Wednesday, 12.14.2011 / 3:52 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Canes Battling Injuries, Consistency
The Carolina Hurricanes returned to Raleigh today for the first time in over a week, back from their four-game Canadian road trip.

Michael Smith
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The Canes went 1-2-1 on the roadie, their longest since the annual October state fair trip. Instead of coming back to North Carolina over the weekend after the game in Winnipeg, the team remained in Toronto, where they had two full days of practice. According to head coach Kirk Muller, last night’s game – a 2-1 overtime loss – is one to build on.

“I thought we executed really well last night,” he said. “It was probably our best overall game [where we played] consistently for 60 minutes.”

Being with the team for two weeks now, Muller said the team has largely moved beyond systems work and into executing that on a consistent basis in search of wins.

“They understand the X’s and O’s of it. So now we’re preaching accountability of doing it every shift,” Muller said. “We’re looking for consistency. I thought last night is a good game to build on that.”

Cam Ward played in just over 30 minutes on Friday in Winnipeg, surrendering four goals on 30 shots. Mike Murphy replaced Ward and played the balance of the game, facing and stopping all of seven shots. Ward responded last night, making 36 saves on 38 shots.

His second-star performance in Toronto earned the Canes a point and gave them a better feeling heading back home.

“He’s had a tough time, he’s a great professional and he hasn’t made any excuses at all,” Muller said of Ward. “He’s a competitor. He really took advantage of the two days in Toronto and re-focused.”

In the last seven games, Ward has faced more than 30 shots five times. The floor in that stretch was 25 shots against, a game that the Canes won 5-3 over the Oilers.

In the next two games, the Canes will face the defending Western Conference Champions and the current Southeast Division leaders in the Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers. The Panthers topped the Canes 3-1 in Muller’s coaching debut. Though the Canes have only earned three points since then, Muller likes the direction they are headed.

“As we said the first day, there’s going to be a lot of teaching and a lot of critiquing. It’s the only way we’re going to get better,” he said. “Our guys have been great. They’ve really been receptive. They want to get better. No body wants to lose.”

Skinner and Pitkanen Out Indefinitely

The team announced today that forward Jeff Skinner and defenseman Joni Pitkanen are out indefinitely with concussions. Skinner has missed two games, while Pitkanen has missed three.

This is most certainly a blow to the Hurricanes, as both are top players who play big minutes. Skinner is the team’s leading scorer with 24 points (12g, 12a). Pitkanen leads defensemen in scoring with 12 points (3g, 9a). Before being injured in Calgary, Pitkanen had a four-game point streak, earning an assist in each game after returning from a lower-body injury.

Though not providing a detailed update, Muller said they would continue to monitor Skinner and Pitkanen on a daily basis.

“We’re not naïve on the situation as far as how important it is to get these guys healthy before they get back,” he said.

Harrison Close to Returning

Jay Harrison was one of four defensemen on the ice practicing today. He has missed nine games and did not travel with the team on the road trip. The Canes have gone 1-7-1 with Harrison out of the lineup.

“He’s closer,” Muller said. “If we had a full practice today, chances are he would have been out with the group.”

Before he exited the lineup, Harrison had logged over 20 minutes in 11 of his last 13 games, including the five straight games leading up to his injury. He played a team-high 29:06 in his last game against Montreal on Nov. 23.

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
K. Versteeg 63 11 22 -6 33
E. Staal 63 10 23 -3 33
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81