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Balanced Scoring Bringing Success

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes

Not that they want to make a habit of it, but the 2008-09 Hurricanes have certainly come out of the gates showing that they still have the flair for a dramatic comeback every now and then.

Paul Branecky
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“You can always use that as confidence,” coach Peter Laviolette said this morning.  “You can always say ‘Hey, we’ve done this before, we’ve been here and we know how to do this.”

The Canes have used a balanced scoring attack to come back from the two- and three-goal deficits they’ve faced in their first two games, both victories over Southeast Division opponents.  Fourteen players have registered a point through the first two games, more than any other team in the league.

“I think [it’s better] anytime you’re not relying on one person to put the puck in the net,” said Laviolette.  “You’d always rather have a balanced attack, and I think there are teams that rely on one or two players, and if those players get shut down or have an off night, that makes it difficult to win.”

As Florida found out on opening night, keeping a player like Eric Staal off the score sheet isn’t good enough, as Carolina can still put up six goals.  As Tampa Bay found out a night later, easing up on Staal a little bit can result in a game-tying goal and an overtime winner.

The Canes have always had plenty of depth at forward to give the opposition those problems, but this year, as expected, the defense seems to have joined the party.  Five of the team’s starting six have a point already, and Joe Corvo should join them in short order.  Tim Gleason and Joni Pitkanen are in a four-way tie for the team’s scoring lead with three points apiece.

In addition to his offensive production, Pitkanen leads the team in ice time with an average of 24:27 per game and is tied for the early league lead with a +4 plus/minus rating.

“He’s been real good,” said Laviolette of Pitkanen.  “He’s big, he’s strong, he’s smart with the puck and he’s got a creative mind.  Offensively when you get into this system and play with the forwards that he does, it’s apt to generate some offense.”

“The first period of the first game was tough, maybe a little nervous, but after that I think we’re getting better and better,” said Pitkanen.

When it comes to calming the nerves. scoring on your debut in front of the home fans couldn't hurt, either.

“Now you don’t have to be worried,” he said.

Notes and Observations:

  • Rod Brind’Amour got the day off from practice this morning to rest for the Detroit game.  He’s done just fine so far, as his three points are tied for the team lead.
  • Maybe I’m a little spoiled with so many highly-touted rookies making immediate impacts over the last few years (Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin and even Kane last year), but I was surprised to see Steven Stamkos barely get six minutes of ice time against the Canes last night.  He’s scoreless in his first three NHL games, but I’m sure that will change.
  • Dennis Seidenberg is handling his increased role in the Hurricanes defense very well so far.  He’s got two assists and either has or is tied for the team lead in hits (5) and blocked shots (8) while ranking third on the team in total ice time.
  • Cory Stillman and Mark Recchi haven’t been kind to their old team so far this season, have they?  You’ll be pleased to know that no one on the Detroit Red Wings has played for Carolina in the past.
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