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Canes in Best Offensive Stretch of Season

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes
Audio: Paul Maurice | Ray Whitney

Not only have the Canes won their last three games, they’ve won them by fairy comfortable margins – something that couldn’t be said prior to February.

Paul Branecky
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Dating back to their win in Phoenix on February 7, each of the Hurricanes’ last five wins have been by at least three goals.  Prior to that, they hadn’t won by three or more since their first meeting with the Coyotes on November 21 – a span of 33 games.

“We played an awful lot of one-goal games for a long, long stretch of time, and now it seems that one team is going to score four or five,” said coach Paul Maurice.   ““The way our forwards are working up front has given us a chance to put a lot of offense on the board, so you’ve got some confidence in your room and the guys are moving the puck.”

In their current winning streak, the Canes have scored a total of 15 goals – easily the most they’ve had in any three-game stretch this season.  They’ve also out-shot their last two opponents, Tampa Bay and Colorado, by a combined 70-32 total.

Despite the recent high goal totals, the Canes actually could have scored more.  Sunday’s win over Colorado, in which Carolina put four past goaltender Andrew Raycroft, saw the home team come up empty on eight power play chances.  They also missed a few high percentage opportunities on open nets and breakaways.

By creating more chances, the Hurricanes are alleviating some pressure on themselves with the knowledge that each unsuccessful power play or missed scoring opportunity isn’t the end of the world. 

They also alleviate some pressure from goaltender Cam Ward, who doesn’t have to be brilliant simply to give his team a chance to win in games where the offense picks him up.  The Colorado game was a shining example of that, as the Hurricanes were able to rally ahead after the Avalanche took an early lead on a shot Ward would normally stop.

A big part of the offensive surge can be attributed to the line of Matt Cullen, Chad LaRose and Ray Whitney, who have combined for 13 points and a +16 plus/minus rating during the current three-game run.

“Cully over the last month and a half has been playing some of the best hockey of his career, I believe, and he was the best player on the ice [against Colorado],” said Whitney. “Chad LaRose has been playing some very good hockey of late too, and he’s a big part of our line.  He was a big part of Rod’s line when he was there, too.  Whoever gets to play with Chad actually gets a pretty good energizer bug out there.  He’s fun to play with.”

Against Ottawa
  • Maurice said that he didn’t expect any lineup changes tomorrow night from the win against Colorado.  That leaves Frantisek Kaberle and Brandon Sutter as healthy scratches.
  • Scott Walker was the only player to skate on Monday, which saw practice cancelled again as the team continues its stretch of 10 games in 17 days.  Maurice said he seemed close to being ready, but would need to get through some intense practices later this week before entering the lineup.

    Question – I’m sure 99.9 percent of you out there want Tim Conboy to stay in the lineup, and justifiably so, so what would you do when Walker is ready to come back in?  Discuss.
  • Prior to losing their last three games, Ottawa won five straight after dismissing coach Craig Hartsburg in favor of Cory Clouston.  Although likely in too big of a hole to make the playoffs, the Senators made a deal to improve their team last week, acquiring Chris Campoli and Mike Comrie from the New York Islanders in exchange for Dean McAmmond and a first-round pick.

    Maurice said that trade could energize the Senators.

    “Whenever you add someone it brings a little excitement into the room, and on the other part it takes a little bit of the focus away from where you’re at, especially there up north where they focus where they’re at all the time,” he said.  “It takes a little bit of pressure off the room.

    “We’re expecting the game you would have expected from Ottawa when you looked at their team at the start of the year.  They can skate, they’ve got two or three really high-end guys up front, and when they get their goaltending they’re a good team.”
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