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Canes Host Ottawa to Wrap Up Abnormal Week

Friday, 01.24.2014 / 3:05 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Canes Host Ottawa to Wrap Up Abnormal Week
It has been an abnormal week for the Carolina Hurricanes, to say the least.

Michael Smith
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It started with a postponement – Carolina’s second in as many weeks – in Philadelphia on Tuesday and snowballed from there.

Moving the game against the Flyers to Wednesday forced the Canes to back up their scheduled Friday meeting with the Ottawa Senators to Saturday – at noon.

“We’re not used to it (early games). But we’re not used to snowstorm cancellations, either,” head coach Kirk Muller said with a laugh. “You’ve got to be ready for anything thrown at you. Ottawa probably doesn’t play many at noon either. There are no excuses. We’ve just got to prepare differently and get ready to get off to a good start.”

Thus far, the schedule shuffle hasn’t adversely affected the team, as the Canes topped the Flyers 3-2 and the Buffalo Sabres 5-3. Those victories away from Raleigh improved the Canes’ road point percentage to .542, a skosh better than their .519 point percentage at home.

With faceoff slated for noon on Saturday, the Canes held a "morning skate" of sorts on Friday, in lieu of the traditional day-of-game morning skate.

“We treated today like a morning skate and prepared stuff for today. [The game] comes early tomorrow at noon, so we’ve already addressed things we want to put into tomorrow’s game-plan and worked on it in the morning skate,” Muller said. “So, more or less, preparation for the game starts today, which is a little different than the typical game day.”

Since being reunited, the Canes’ top line of Jiri Tlusty, Eric Staal and Alexander Semin has combined for 17 points (9g, 8a) in the last four games. Semin has scored in four consecutive games (6g) for the first time since 2010, Staal is riding a four-game assist streak (5a) and Tlusty has points in three straight (2g, 3a).

“I talked to the line in general and said, ‘Listen. You’re all really good hockey players. All three of you could very easily be in the Olympics this year. You’re international, top-quality players. For whatever reason it didn’t happen,’” Muller recalled before Semin was named to the Russian Olympic team. “’But you were one of the best lines last year. In order for you guys to get back at that, it’s not going to be one individual doing it; it’s going to be the three of you helping each other out.’ Semin is getting the goals right now, but as a trio, they’ve all picked their game up, and they’re getting more production.”

Also playing well (still) is goaltender Anton Khudobin, who is 9-3-0 this season with a 2.13 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage. Since returning from injury, Khudobin is 7-3-0; in two of the losses, the Canes failed to score, and he came into the game in relief in the other.

“He says he feels good. He’s on a roll,” Muller said of Khudobin, who is likely to start versus Ottawa. “He competes. He really doesn’t quit on any shots. He’s made some big, key saves on second and third chances. He’s seeing the puck well, he’s focused and he’s confident.”

In other roster notes, the Canes assigned defenseman Ryan Murphy to Charlotte on Friday morning to ensure that he can play in the AHL during the NHL's Olympic break, which begins Feb. 9. Forward Elias Lindholm, the Canes’ only other waiver-exempt player, can be assigned to Charlotte right before the break due to the time he spent with Sweden in the World Junior Championship.

Assigning Murphy leaves the Canes with seven defensemen. Brett Bellemore has been a healthy extra in the team’s last four games, and based on line rushes in today’s practice, he will again sit on Saturday.

Forward Patrick Dwyer did not practice on Friday, as he is day-to-day with an upper body injury.

“He won’t be in tomorrow, but I don’t think he’s going to be far off after that,” Muller said.

Goaltender Cam Ward put in work on the ice as the Canes’ skate was wrapping up. He has missed 10 games with a lower-body injury, and Muller had no timetable for his return.

“We’re going to make sure he’s 100 percent. He hasn’t even had a full practice with us yet,” Muller said, noting the Canes wouldn’t hold a full practice again until Thursday. “It’s tough for a guy being hurt right now.”

For fans attending Saturday’s game, the Canes will be offering $2 soda and $1 popcorn. Those with tickets who cannot attend the rescheduled Saturday match-up have the option to exchange their unused tickets for any one of the team’s three remaining Friday home games. For complete details, please click here.



SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81