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Wild vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Gameday: Avs Provide Good Challenge for Canes

Tuesday, 11.12.2013 / 12:30 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Gameday: Avs Provide Good Challenge for Canes
The Canes are pleased with the direction of their game over the last week, and tonight\'s tilt against the Avs could provide a measuring stick.
The Carolina Hurricanes are pleased with the direction of their game over the last week, and Tuesday night’s tilt against one of the NHL’s hottest teams in the Colorado Avalanche could provide an appropriate measuring stick.

Michael Smith
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“We like where we’re at and where we can still get to,” said defenseman Justin Faulk, who will likely draw the task of shutting down Matt Duchene, the third-leading goal scorer in the NHL (11 goals). “There’s another level in our game we know we can get to, so we like the process we’ve been going through to get there.”

“We’ve built a lot on these last few games. We’ve done a lot of good things as a team with some really solid team play. I think we’re moving in the right direction,” forward Jordan Staal said. “We all know there’s still more to be done, and we’re excited that we have more.”

While the Hurricanes have won their last three home games against the Avalanche, dating back to 2009, Colorado is a perfect 6-0-0 on the road this season.

Consistency, it seems, has been the key for the Avs.

“I think it’s because of their mindset. They play a real high-pressure, come-at-you, in-your-face type of game,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “I don’t think they have any fear to play in any rink whether it’s at home or on the road. That’s their style, and that’s how they play. I don’t think they’re going to change no matter who their opponent is.”

The Canes have to counterbalance the Avs’ attack by staying disciplined in their system. Colorado is a perfect 12-0-0 when scoring first and 10-0-0 when leading after one period.

“We’ve got to be ready tonight, especially in the first period,” Muller said. “They come out quick. It’s going to be a fast game. We can’t make anything slow tonight.”

So, what kind of game should be expected?

“You’re going to have two aggressive teams tonight. We’re not going to sit back either. It should be a fast-paced, high-tempo game here tonight,” Muller said. “Both teams are saying, hey, we’re not going to change. I don’t think you can sit back with the type of style they play. We’re going to go after them, and they’re going to go after us. We just have to stay disciplined.”

Under the microscope tonight could be special teams play. The Canes are struggling on the man-advantage, having not potted a power play goal in three games and scoring at just a 6.3 percent clip over their last five games (1-for-16). The Avalanche, meanwhile, is a perfect 19-for-19 on the penalty kill on the road.

The Canes have shuffled around their two power play units, but ultimately it boils down to simplicity.

“I know we keep talking about it, but we just have to simplify it and shoot. The personnel is there, and we just have to get the guys in more of a shooting mentality,” Muller said. “We’ve just got to go at a higher tempo, simplify, shoot more and get more traffic in front.”

Justin Peters, who has stopped 77 of his last 80 shots faced (.963 save percentage), will get his eighth straight start in net. His first start this season came against the same Colorado team just over two weeks ago.

In a lineup note, defenseman Tim Gleason will not play tonight. Though he has practiced with the team since Sunday, Muller wants to put him through a few more full team skates before reinserting him in a game.

“We’re playing one of the quickest teams in the league right now, and it’s a tough one to get your feet wet and get back in it,” Muller said.

Pulling back the scope, this week as a whole is going to be a good litmus test for the Canes in seeing how their game stacks up to the best teams in the Western Conference. It starts tonight as they close out their two-game season series with Colorado.

“It’s going to be a good challenge for us to play our system, play it for 60 minutes and see where we are at the end of the night tonight,” Muller said.



SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 62 41 16 5 171 135 87
2 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
3 NYR 61 38 17 6 192 152 82
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 61 24 30 7 142 162 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 61 12 28 -16 40
E. Staal 56 18 19 -10 37
E. Lindholm 60 11 16 -16 27
J. Skinner 56 16 10 -16 26
R. Nash 58 7 15 -9 22
N. Gerbe 57 7 15 -11 22
V. Rask 59 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 61 6 12 3 18
J. Staal 25 4 12 -2 16
A. Nestrasil 33 4 10 4 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 19 4 .913 2.37
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .906 2.60