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Tracking the Storm

Hurricanes Notebook: Line Shuffling, Injuries and First Periods

Sunday, 10.27.2013 / 2:20 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Hurricanes Notebook: Line Shuffling, Injuries and First Periods
Injuries forced the Hurricanes to shuffle lines in practice on Sunday, and Muller and Staal on what the Canes need to do to fix their first periods.
With a number of injuries to the Carolina Hurricanes forward ranks, the coaching staff juggled the lines in practice on Sunday after a cross-country day of travel on Saturday.

Michael Smith
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Nathan Gerbe slid up to the left side on the first line, as Jiri Tlusty joined Elias Lindholm as wingers flanking Jordan Staal.

“He’s played well for us so far this year. I’m excited to have him in on the forecheck,” Eric Staal said of Gerbe. “Getting that first guy hard in on the forecheck and then having a second guy right there [is important]. If you don’t have two guys on the puck, it’s difficult to create any offense.”

Patrick Dwyer, who missed the team’s last two games with an upper-body injury, returned to practice, skating on the third line with Riley Nash and Tuomo Ruutu.

“Patty coming off the injury, I wasn’t sure where he was at today, but he seems good,” head coach Kirk Muller said.

The fourth line rounded out with Drayson Bowman and Kevin Westgarth on either side of Brett Sutter.

In scanning the lines, it’s noted that the Hurricanes possess a number of forwards who have seen differing roles in the first month of the season. Versatility is a boon, especially when dealing with a swelling list of injuries.

“Certain guys can play off wings, like Ruutu can go left or right, Radek can and Lindy can go center or right wing,” Muller said. “It really does help balance the lines in the ways that you need to put them together. Having forwards that are versatile is very helpful, especially with the injuries we’ve faced.”

Injury Updates Aplenty

Muller’s post-practice media availability began with a request for an injury update.

His response: “Well, who do you want to start with?”

Goaltender Anton Khudobin (lower body) skated very briefly before practice Sunday morning but didn’t feel great doing so.

“He’s got a little work to do. It’s nice to see that he went out and tried it,” Muller said. “He’s got some work ahead of him, I guess. I don’t really have a time frame for him, to be honest with you.”

Defenseman Brett Bellemore skated prior to practice, as well, but was still experiencing soreness. He’s on injured reserve – and will be so until the end of October – with a lower-body concern.

Forward Radek Dvorak (lower body) did not skate this morning and is a question mark for Monday night’s tilt against Pittsburgh.

“He’ll come in tomorrow and reassess,” Muller said.

Forward Jeff Skinner (upper body) underwent an MRI Sunday morning, and Muller did not yet have an update to pass along.

As a side note, you can track daily injury reports on this page, which will be regularly updated with the latest confirmed news as it becomes available.

Fixing the First Period

In three of the Hurricanes’ four regulation losses this season, they’ve trailed after 20 minutes; in the fourth, against Phoenix, they were tied 1-1 after one period.

The first 20 doomed the Canes most recently in their back-to-back set against Minnesota and Colorado, games in which they spotted each home team two goals before the first intermission.

“As a group, consistently, we just have to be smarter with some of the decisions we’re making, especially in the first period,” Staal said. “It’s just about being smarter in our game and not beating ourselves in certain positions on the ice. If we do that, we’ll be fine.”

A main focus of practice on Sunday was getting back to playing the game “the right way,” as Muller says, the right way being playing smart defensively, especially in limiting the number of opponents’ odd-man rushes.

“We want to eliminate out-numbered situations and get back to earlier in the season where we were not really giving up much,” Muller said. “If you look at our games lately, we’re not giving up much at all in the defensive zone coverage. It’s more just out-numbered situations.

“The offense happens when we play the game the right way,” he continued. “We have for the majority of the time. It’s just that when we get off of it, we pay the price for it.”

The Canes have been outscored 9-3 and outshot 118-97 in first periods this season. The final two periods have been better, especially the middle frame in which Carolina has outscored and outshot opponents 12-9 and 121-99, respectively.

“It’s from pressing at the beginning. The intention is good when we come out, but if we’re going to make the mistakes, get caught and get scored on, then you’re chasing the game,” Muller said. “We’ve got to come out smarter.”



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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 71 22 28 -12 50
J. Faulk 76 15 32 -19 47
E. Lindholm 75 16 21 -20 37
J. Skinner 71 18 13 -22 31
V. Rask 74 11 20 -13 31
N. Gerbe 72 9 17 -13 26
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. McClement 76 7 13 -5 20
J. Staal 40 4 16 -6 20
J. Liles 51 2 17 -8 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 20 22 5 .909 2.43
A. Khudobin 8 15 6 .904 2.60