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Depth on Display

Monday, 10.7.2013 / 2:15 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Depth on Display
In 2012-13, the Carolina Hurricanes had success because of the first line of Eric Staal, Alexander Semin and Jiri Tlusty. Through two games in this young season, they’re seeing success in the absence of top line contribution.

Michael Smith
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And that’s okay. In fact, it highlights an attribute of the club that was scarcely seen last season: scoring depth.

“I don’t think anyone is going to disagree that their line … is not up to par right now, timing-wise,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “We look at the positive side of it in that we have nice depth right now with the other lines.”

In the Canes first two games, in which they’ve scored four goals, Radek Dvorak has netted two, Nathan Gerbe figured in on the power play and Jay Harrison pitched in from the blue line.

“No question. It’s very, very encouraging,” said Eric Staal when asked about the depth in the Canes’ lineup. “That’s a key piece to a great team: having balance in your lineup.”

Though the first line hasn’t appeared on the scoresheet, it’s not for a lack of trying. In two games, the trio has combined for eight shots. Semin had a screeching wrister bounce off the post against Detroit, and on Sunday afternoon, Staal put one just wide of the outstretched Steve Mason on the power play.

If either of those find the twine, maybe this article doesn’t get published.

“Once that thing hits the back of the net, you get your confidence back. It goes a long way,” Staal said. “We’re going to get our chances and our opportunities. We’ve got 80 games left. I’m not worried about it.”

It’s not that the chemistry isn’t still there between the three; that much was evident as early as the first training camp practice. It’s just that the timing is a bit off, perhaps a factor of various injuries – Staal’s knee malady in the summer and Semin’s recent upper-body concern.

“We’re just a hair off. Last night we were closer than the night before, and this week, hopefully sooner than later, it will get even closer to getting back to the scoresheet,” Staal said. “I think we’ll continue to work and push harder and push each other to get better.”

Goals and points will come from the first line. And when they do, they might come in bunches.

Until then, the depth of the team is on full display, and that’s not a bad thing.

“We’re not going to score every night, and they’re not going to score every night,” Staal said. “When you balance it out and everyone contributes in different ways, it’s going to result in wins and points.”

Ruutu Nearing Return?

Speaking of scoring depth, Tuomo Ruutu (lower body) skated with the Hurricanes in practice for the first time in two weeks. The forward, who is currently on injured reserve, will travel with the team on its two-game road trip.

So where does he fit in when he’s ready to return? Do you disrupt the second and third lines?

“You really don’t want to mix up chemistry. Nash’s line, so far, seems to have good chemistry and is playing well and producing. They’ve been pretty strong, and Jordan’s line has had great chemistry,” Muller said. “Guys that have missed time, it’s tough to get in and eat a lot of minutes, so if he does get in, maybe he starts on the fourth line and builds himself up.”

In other injury news, Elias Lindholm, who left Sunday’s game in the third period and returned to the bench, practiced with the team on Monday and is possible for Tuesday’s game in Pittsburgh. Tim Gleason (concussion) remains out indefinitely.



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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
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81