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Sabres-Hurricanes Preview

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:47 AM

Paul Branecky

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Sabres-Hurricanes Preview
Buffalo Sabres vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Hurricanes Home and Prize Giveaway Information

Most teams in the NHL would consider so many injuries to their key players this early in the season as a reason to start panicking.

For the Hurricanes, however, it’s just business as usual.

Nine games into the season, Head Coach Peter Laviolette has yet to have a full, healthy lineup at his disposal.  Reasons for the absences have ranged from the routine (bumps and bruises sustained during games) to the random (car accidents, pick-up soccer games).

Injuries have consistently been a problem for the Hurricanes the last few years to the point where each becomes less and less surprising, but so far this season the team has been up to the challenge.

In Monday night’s game against Vancouver, forwards Erik Cole, Andrew Ladd and Scott Walker were all out, precipitating the return of call-up veterans Keith Aucoin and Ryan Bayda from Albany. 

Even with the loss of those three players, who combined for 25 percent of the Hurricane’s goal output last year with 61, the ‘Canes still managed to put two past Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo, who is regarded as one of the best in the league, before adding an empty-netter to seal the win.

”We feel confident with the guys we have in this locker room,” said goaltender Cam Ward.  “If a player goes down, we’ve got good quality players to step in and fill those roles.  Guys stepped up and put in a solid effort with key guys being out of the lineup.”

With Luongo at his best in the first period, it looked like the missing firepower could end up taking its toll on the Hurricanes.  The home team was getting off plenty of shots and the power play looked good, but all the ‘Canes had to show for it was a scoreless tie.

Rather than let that get to them, the team kept working and eventually broke through with a power play marker by Cory Stillman

”We talked about it at the end of the first period about just not getting frustrated,” said Laviolette.  ”I guess you could roll over, but you’ve got to keep working.  It didn’t happen for us, and we know Luongo from when he was in Florida.  He’s a good goaltender, and you’ve just got to keep peppering away.”

“We looked at it before the game, and we knew that in order to give ourselves the best chance to score on Luongo, we were going to have to throw a lot of shots at him,” said Ward.  “He’s arguably the best goalie in the league right now, and we knew it was going to be tough.  We stuck with it, and Stiller came up with a big power play goal for us.”

The Hurricanes will have to keep showing that kind of resiliency in the coming week, as they must play three games in the next four days against Buffalo, Montreal and the New York Islanders.  Unlike last week, in which there were five days in between games, that’s not a lot of time for the injured players to heal.

There is still no timetable on Walker’s return as he continues to deal with his torso injury, and things aren’t looking much better for Cole or Ladd, who both did not practice on Tuesday and are doubtful to play until next week at the very least.

”I think it would be premature for me to say that those guys are possible,” said Laviolette.  “Ladd might be the closest one, but you didn’t see him out there today, which tells you that he’s still a little ways away.  I don’t want to say that he can’t play on Friday or Saturday, but I’m not expecting it.”

Carolina’s next challenge will be at home against the 3-4-0 Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night in a continuation of a rivalry that ignited two years ago in the Eastern Conference Finals.  Carolina won that hard-fought series in seven games before going on to win the Stanley Cup.Games against the Sabres are always circled on the Caniacs’ calendars due to the past that exists between the two teams, and the feeling in the Carolina locker room isn’t that much different.

“It always seems like when we play Buffalo it’s a pretty intense game,” said Ward.

“Yeah, Buffalo is definitely a tough competitor,” said Eric Staal. “There’s a lot of Buffalo fans in this area, so that makes for a fun game, and we had a great playoff series against them a couple of years ago.

Since the Hurricanes playoff victory in 2006, the Sabres have earned the upper hand by sweeping last year’s regular-season series 4-0, something that the Hurricanes will look to reverse against Buffalo’s new-look lineup, which is missing Daniel Briere and Chris Drury from year’s past.

”We didn’t have very much success against them last year, so I’m sure the players remember that and they’ll be ready to play,” said Laviolette.

2007-2008 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 14 '08 CAR 1 at BUF 7 A. Mair
Mar 08 '08 BUF 3 at CAR 4 - OT S. Walker
Dec 01 '07 CAR 1 at BUF 8 T. Connolly
Oct 24 '07 BUF 2 at CAR 6 E. Staal