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Blues 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 NYI 47 32 14 1 155 130 65
2 DET 48 28 11 9 144 123 65
3 TBL 49 30 15 4 158 131 64
4 MTL 46 30 13 3 126 108 63
5 PIT 48 27 13 8 143 124 62
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 NYR 45 27 14 4 135 110 58
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 45 20 15 10 111 127 50
10 TOR 49 22 23 4 143 152 48
11 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
12 PHI 49 20 22 7 134 149 47
13 CBJ 46 21 22 3 117 145 45
14 NJD 48 18 22 8 109 135 44
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 48 14 31 3 90 171 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 42 16 14 -6 30
J. Faulk 47 9 19 -13 28
E. Lindholm 47 9 11 -11 20
J. Tlusty 40 12 7 -11 19
J. Skinner 42 10 9 -7 19
R. Nash 47 7 12 -4 19
N. Gerbe 43 5 13 -3 18
V. Rask 47 6 9 -10 15
A. Sekera 45 1 14 -6 15
C. Terry 34 6 3 -3 9
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 6 8 2 .918 2.30
C. Ward 11 17 3 .911 2.45