Bruins vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Team Toughness in Numbers

Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 2:31 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Team Toughness in Numbers
Minutes after Jeff Skinner left the ice following a hit from Brooks Orpik on Tuesday in Pittsburgh, the Carolina Hurricanes responded with perhaps an unlikely participant.

Michael Smith
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Tim Brent dropped the gloves with Joe Vitale in what was just Brent’s second fight in the National Hockey League.

But, that’s what team toughness is all about.

“It’s not something I do all the time, but I think anybody who is emotionally invested and cares, it happens sometimes,” he said. “I’m not the first guy to do it this year. There have been plenty of guys to step up for each other throughout the season. Stewy did it. Bryan Allen has done it a bunch of times. Tim Gleason has done it a bunch of times.”

Brent charged towards Vitale in the corner of the defensive zone when Vitale went in hard on Derek Joslin. Brent said he gave Vitale and cross check and said, “Let’s go.” The two skated toward the front of the net, and Vitale complied. It was a quick bout, but the edge would probably have to go to Brent.

But if you ask him, it’s not about what he did. The focus is on the team.

“You look through our lineup – we’ve got some skilled guys, we’ve got some grinders,” he said. “But I don’t think it matters whether you’re skilled or just a hard working guy. If you show up, compete and do things like stand up for your teammates, it goes a long way.”

Later in the third period, Jay Harrison went after Tyler Kennedy when Kennedy fired a shot toward a mask-less Cam Ward. Harrison quickly shoved Kennedy into the boards, the teams gathered and cooler heads prevailed.

“Harry was quick to respond, and that’s what we want,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “That’s what we’re about it. It’s about the team. It’s about each other. It’s about playing hard for each other and having each other’s backs.”

Earlier in the game, Tim Gleason and Deryk Engelland went toe-to-toe in what Brent said was “two men having a punch-in-the-face contest.” That seemed to be an isolated incident until Orpik rammed Skinner in front of the Carolina boards.

Orpik received an interference penalty as Skinner struggled to get up. Skinner went to the locker room and ran through some tests before returning to the ice to finish the game. He was on the ice practicing with the team this morning, and Muller said Skinner is fine, despite the clean, but devastating hit.

“We have to have that belief that what we’re playing for is each other,” Muller said. “[Skinner] is a feisty little player, and he has the puck a lot. I think he’s the first to say that he’s got to learn what guys are on the ice and the position he puts himself in.”

Brent’s scrap is a microcosm of the team toughness that has been seen at times this season. Anthony Stewart challenged New York Ranger Brian Boyle for his hit on Skinner on Dec. 1. After the game, players responded positively, saying that it showed they were sticking together through the good times and the bad.

Last night, the team was sticking up for a sophomore forward who had just missed 16 games with a concussion and a goalie who was defenseless in his face. They displayed, as Muller said, “team toughness in numbers.”

Though they don’t have two points to show for it, the Canes did put forth arguably the fifth game in a row of a total team effort and showed toughness along the way. They do have the scrapes and bruises to prove that. Look no further than Brent’s knuckles.

“Scraped up a bit,” he said, “but you aren’t going to find too many hockey players who are going to be hand models after their hockey careers are over.”

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 74 37 25 12 216 199 86
10 FLA 75 34 26 15 186 205 83
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 75 31 32 12 167 192 74
14 CAR 74 28 36 10 173 202 66
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 69 21 28 -11 49
J. Faulk 74 15 32 -17 47
E. Lindholm 73 16 21 -19 37
J. Skinner 69 18 13 -21 31
V. Rask 72 11 20 -11 31
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 70 7 17 -13 24
J. McClement 74 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 46 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 38 4 16 -7 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 20 21 5 .911 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 15 5 .903 2.62