Tracking the Storm

Gameday: Empty Tank Before Holiday Break

Monday, 12.23.2013 / 12:30 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Gameday: Empty Tank Before Holiday Break
With a three-day holiday break ahead, the Canes will empty the tank against Columbus, a divisional opponent who they meet for the first time.
The Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets both play in the Metropolitan Division, but in 36 regular-season games, they have yet to come head-to-head – until tonight.

Michael Smith
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In team game 37 for either club, the Canes and Jackets – now division rivals after Columbus moved east in the league’s realignment – will meet in the first of five occasions, three of which will take place at PNC Arena.

The Hurricanes come into tonight’s game at 14-14-8 (identical 7-7-4 home and road records) with 36 points, which ranks them fifth in the Metro Division, just a point behind third-place New Jersey. The Blue Jackets sit in seventh, but they only trail the Hurricanes by two points.

“I think this is a huge game, obviously state-wise and in the standings,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “But we’ve been playing some good hockey, and it’s a matter of getting results when we do.”

Since a five-day break coming off of a four-game road swing out west, the Hurricanes dropped a 4-2 decision to Washington at home on Friday and a 3-2 overtime decision in Tampa Bay on Saturday, results that were opposite of what the team deserved.

“We deserved two points the night before and didn’t get it,” Muller said of the Washington game. “We go down there (Tampa Bay), we didn’t deserve anything and we got a point.”

Versus Washington, the Canes dominated five-on-five play, but giving up three power play goals proved to be the difference. Muller said today that Friday’s game was one of the best efforts his team has put forth all season, special teams aside.

The next night in Tampa Bay, the Canes were vastly outplayed by the Lightning, but Justin Peters put up 47 saves on 50 shots to steal the team a point.

“We were an exhausted team,” Muller said. “The one thing I can say about our group this year is that, even that night, we found a way to get a point. They gave it everything they got.”

Fatigue-wise, losing Jay Harrison to an upper-body injury in the second period didn’t help matters. The Canes will be without his services tonight versus Columbus, and although it wasn’t stated by Muller, Ryan Murphy could draw back into the lineup in Harrison’s stead. Harrison is day-to-day.

“Other than that, we have a good, healthy group,” Muller said.

Muller did not commit to a starting goaltender.

“You’ll see tonight,” he responded, when asked who would start.

Historically, the Canes have not defeated Columbus since Dec. 15, 2005, a 2-1 win in Raleigh. The Blue Jackets have won the last five meetings between the two teams, but the Canes hold a 4-3-0 home record against Columbus.

The Canes did not skate this morning, a multi-faceted decision. For one, Muller said he likes the way his team responds on the ice when not skating in the morning.

“So far this year, we’ve responded by doing well by having no skate in the morning. You can’t always do it because of the schedule,” he said. “When we’re rested and ready to go it seems to benefit us.”

Secondly, Muller wants to see the Canes empty the tank before the three-day holiday break that separates tonight’s game and Friday’s tilt against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who currently lead the Metropolitan Division.

“You want to finish on a good note because we’ll have a few days off before we start up again,” Muller said. “We’ll crank it up, give it all tonight and empty the tank.”



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