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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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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
7 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
8 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
9 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
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
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