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Tracking the Storm

Gameday: Homestand Continues vs. Winnipeg

Tuesday, 02.4.2014 / 12:15 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Gameday: Homestand Continues vs. Winnipeg
The Canes are looking to ride the momentum of a successful January, in which the team posted a 10-4-0 record.
The Carolina Hurricanes’ four-game homestand leading into the Olympic break continues Tuesday when they host the Winnipeg Jets.

Michael Smith
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The Canes are looking to ride the momentum of a successful January, in which the team posted a 10-4-0 record.

“Everyone knows that every game is so important. You want to look at it one game at a time, obviously, but we know the countdown is on with the Olympic break coming up,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “It’s kind of nice because guys can go all out and start resting next week. We have a tough opponent tonight that’s playing really well, and we’ve got to put all our focus on this game tonight.”

Tonight’s tilt marks the first of two meetings between the two teams, who are now no longer divisional rivals. While the road team has claimed victory in 16 of the last 22 meetings between these two clubs, the Canes are 14-10-5 at home this season and are riding a three-game home winning streak.

“We’re playing a simple game here,” Muller said. “The big focus is there, as well. I think everyone understand where we are in the standings and what the league’s all about. When you have an opportunity to win at home, good teams have a good home record, and we knew we had to get it going in a better direction. We did that in the month of January, so now we just have to build on it.”

The Canes’ homestand also comes at a time when the schedule loosens up a bit. In late January, the Canes played a sequence of five games in seven nights, earning eight out of a 10 possible points (4-1-0). But rest is never a negative.

“The way our team plays – we’ve got to skate and move the puck – it helps when you have that extra energy,” Muller said. “We went through that grinding part of the schedule, but now it’s the same mentality. No secret. We’ll say give it all here tonight. We’ll have a couple days to rest again and go back at it. We should be focused and ready to play hard here tonight.”

The Jets come in to town with an 8-2-0 record in their last 10 games, tying a franchise best over a 10-game stretch. Winnipeg is led by former two-time Hurricanes head coach Paul Maurice, who spent 920 of his 1,094 career games as an NHL head coach behind the bench for Carolina.

On the Canes bench is someone who played in 346 games for the Winnipeg franchise over five seasons: Ron Hainsey, who was signed by the Canes as a free agent in early September. Hainsey has played in all 54 games for the Hurricanes this season, and he ranks third on the team in average ice time per game at 21:09. He’s also blocked a team second-best 76 shots.

“[He’s brought] enthusiasm and some life to the room. He’s got a good personality in terms of bringing that to our room. We needed some veteran guys to bring that type of mindset,” Muller said. “He’s been slotted in the No. 3 spot since the beginning. He fits in with the way we wanted our D to be puck-moving guys. He’s been very competitive, and he’s been pretty consistent.”

In other roster notes, forward Radek Dvorak and defenseman Mike Komisarek are expected to again be the healthy extras.

Anton Khudobin will make his seventh straight start in net, which will also mark his 15th consecutive appearance in goal for the Canes since returning from an ankle injury. Khudobin is 10-4-0 since returning and 12-4-0 on the season. He holds a 2.16 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. On Monday, Khudobin was named the NHL’s first star of the month for January, becoming the fifth player in franchise history to earn player of the month honor.

“He’s colorful, and he’s got a unique personality,” Muller said when asked to describe Khudobin. “He loves to compete, and he’s been a competitor. It was great to see him get rewarded yesterday.”



SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 71 22 28 -12 50
J. Faulk 76 15 32 -19 47
E. Lindholm 75 16 21 -20 37
J. Skinner 71 18 13 -22 31
V. Rask 74 11 20 -13 31
N. Gerbe 72 9 17 -13 26
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. McClement 76 7 13 -5 20
A. Nestrasil 48 7 13 5 20
J. Staal 40 4 16 -6 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 20 22 5 .909 2.43
A. Khudobin 8 15 6 .904 2.60