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Oilers vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Canes Escape Buffalo Blizzard

Wednesday, 01.08.2014 / 5:15 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Canes Escape Buffalo Blizzard
The Hurricanes returned to Raleigh on Wednesday to shift their focus to a fast-approaching back-to-back set with Toronto and Columbus.

Temperatures still might be hovering around freezing in the Triangle, but it certainly doesn’t compare to the blizzard conditions the Carolina Hurricanes experienced in Buffalo in the last couple of days.

Michael Smith
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The weather situation was so dire – zero visibility, high winds, sub-zero wind chill and plenty of snow to go with it – that the NHL postponed the Canes’ Tuesday night match-up with the Sabres. A make-up date has yet to be decided.

“It’s unfortunate, but it was quite a storm,” head coach Kirk Muller said Wednesday, just about an hour after the Canes escaped snowy Buffalo and landed in Raleigh. “We’re just happy that we finally got out of there and got back here to get ready for our next game.”

The Canes were greeted by cold temperatures, sure, but they were no longer bearing the brunt of the polar vortex.

“It’s a little colder, but it’s nice to see the sun after the two days there,” defenseman Andrej Sekera said.

Even Muller, an Ontario native and someone not unfamiliar to colder environments, said the weather situation in Buffalo was rather serious.

“Let’s just say, for Canadians and people that live up in the north, even for us it was a pretty good one,” he said. “When a town like Buffalo shuts things down, when there are no cars on the road, when restaurants are closing up because they are accepting the fact that everyone is staying indoors and not going anywhere, that’s a pretty good sign it’s a good storm. It was cold. The wind was the big factor, and the wind chill made it very uncomfortable and unsafe to go outside. So we just buckled down.”

Sekera, who played in Buffalo for seven seasons, said he had never seen such a fierce storm.

“We had a couple snowstorms, but not as windy as this one,” he said. “It was really bad.”

Prior to the game’s postponement, announced mid-afternoon, the Canes prepared as if they would face off at 7:08 p.m., just like any other game night.

“We were expecting the game would be played,” Sekera said. “We went for the pregame skate, we had lunch and took a nap.”

“It’s different. It doesn’t happen too often,” Muller said. “We approached it right up to cancellation, around 3:00, we said let’s have our morning skate, let’s have our meals, let’s have every preparation that we’re supposed to do to prepare for a game.”

After that, there wasn’t much the team could do with their suddenly free evening except lounge around at the hotel.

“It’s not a fun time, but it is what it is,” Sekera said. “Mostly guys stayed at the hotel. There were one or two places open for food.”

“The guys just hung out in the hotel. There wasn’t much to do, other than kind of hang there and eat,” Muller said. “The guys were great. They treated it like a team bonding thing.”

With the blizzard behind them, the Hurricanes got back on the ice on Wednesday afternoon to flush out the lethargy of the past two days. Having the schedule suddenly interrupted as it was on Tuesday could certainly stall any team’s momentum – especially a team riding a four-game winning streak – but Muller is looking at the benefits what an unexpected reprieve can bring.

“We’ve got to look at it in a positive way; it happened, and you can’t do anything about it, but it gave our guys an extra day of rest,” he said. “We have a few guys that have a few tweaks of things that gave them extra time to heal, so that’s awesome, and some of our top guys have been playing a lot of minutes.”

Injured forwards Jiri Tlusty (appendectomy) and Riley Nash (lower body) continued to skate with the team at practice, and eight healthy defensemen were also present. Muller expects Eric Staal (lower body) to miss the next couple of games, at least, and he added that Cam Ward (lower body) could begin skating again as early as Thursday.

The Canes will host Tim Gleason and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday before jetting off to Columbus to face the division-rival Blue Jackets on Friday.

“We’re looking at the positives,” Muller said. “Our guys got a little more rest, and we’ll need a good morning skate tomorrow to get refocused and get ready to go for a huge two games ahead of us.”



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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 65 41 18 6 175 146 88
2 NYI 66 42 21 3 211 185 87
3 TBL 66 40 20 6 217 173 86
4 NYR 63 39 17 7 197 155 85
5 DET 62 36 15 11 182 160 83
6 PIT 63 36 18 9 182 158 81
7 WSH 66 35 21 10 194 164 80
8 BOS 63 31 22 10 168 165 72
9 FLA 65 28 23 14 159 185 70
10 PHI 65 28 25 12 173 187 68
11 OTT 62 28 23 11 176 167 67
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 65 26 34 5 175 199 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 62 12 28 -18 40
E. Staal 57 18 20 -12 38
E. Lindholm 61 11 16 -18 27
J. Skinner 57 16 10 -17 26
N. Gerbe 58 7 16 -10 23
R. Nash 59 7 15 -10 22
V. Rask 60 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 62 6 13 3 19
J. Staal 26 4 12 -4 16
A. Nestrasil 34 4 11 4 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 20 4 .911 2.43
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .905 2.61