Tracking the Storm

Gameday: Taking It One Game at a Time

Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 12:45 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Gameday: Taking It One Game at a Time
Playing a game every other day, on average, for the next six-and-a-half weeks will be a physical and mental test of monolithic proportion for the Carolina Hurricanes.

Michael Smith
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So, the team is taking it one game and one day at a time. It’s an approach that is perhaps unique to the team, but one that’s been employed with recent success.

“It would be a little overwhelming if you started looking ahead too far,” said forward Tim Brent. “I think it’s easier as a player to focus short-term, and if you do that consistently, the long-term stuff will take care of itself.”

“I just think our group is better that way. Yesterday was a rest day, so you come back today focused on tonight’s game,” said head coach Kirk Muller. “It just works for us. Every team has a different formula. We need to focus and be ready to play every day.”

The Hurricanes come into tonight’s game against Washington, the latter half of a home-and-home set with their future Division D/Atlantic Division rival, having won six of their last seven games. In that stretch, they’ve outscored opponents nearly two to one, at 29-15.

Approaching the schedule a game at a time isn’t exactly a playoff mindset, Muller said, but rather a reflection of the state of the team.

“It’s more just that we’re still coming together as a team. We’ve got a lot of young guys, and we’re focused on the process of getting better every day. It’s easier if you just say, ‘OK, what do I need to do today?’” Muller said. “It just keeps it more in perspective. We’re really understanding what works for us and what makes our team tick.”

In a way, injuries have also forced the team to take a game-by-game approach, especially in net. Riding Dan Ellis and Justin Peters down the stretch is the team’s plan, but neither has been named a clear-cut No. 1.

“We’re still at a position with these two goalies that we need both of them. They ran this way in Charlotte this year, and it worked well. They’re comfortable with it. It’s a good push for each other. It keeps them fresh,” Muller said. “Right now, our mentality is if they’re both playing like that, we’ll go back-and-forth.”

After Ellis made 31 saves in a 6-3 win over New Jersey on March 9, Muller turned to Peters in Washington on Tuesday. Peters stopped all 26 shots he faced, earning his second-career shutout against the team which he recorded his first shutout. Ellis gets the start in net tonight as the rotation continues.

“There aren’t too many teams that have the luxuries of three great goalies,” Brent said.

Despite being ranked 29th in the league on the power play at home at just 8.5 percent (4-for-47), the Hurricanes have netted a goal on the man-advantage in two of their last three home games.

“I’m kind of going through it on the offensive side right now. I don’t have a goal yet, and you find yourself thinking about it too much and gripping the stick a little too tight trying to do a little too much,” said Brent, who netted a career-high 12 goals last season and has yet to score in 16 games this year. “It’s kind of the same thing with the power play. We’ve found ways to win games so far without it, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s just a matter of time before it starts going in for us.”

At the other end of the ice on special teams, the Canes’ penalty killing remains solid, as they’ve killed off 34-of-37 in their last 12 games.

“There’s no question that it’s helped us win games,” Brent said of the penalty kill. “As much as you want the power play to score and click, the penalty kill can step up and keep us out of trouble at the other end and then let our five-on-five game take over.”

In front of Ellis, the Canes will ice the same lineup as they did Tuesday night in Washington.



SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72