The Carolina Hurricanes have returned from their annual, State Fair-induced October road trip. And though practice this morning was upbeat and vocal, the team is clearly not pleased with how the road swing ended.
Facing a then 2-4 St. Louis Blues team and a then 1-4-1 Winnipeg team, the Canes had to be considered favorites, especially after stringing three wins together against Boston twice and Buffalo.
Against both the Blues and Jets, the Canes jumped out to early 2-0 leads. Their lead in St. Louis faded in the second period when the Blues came on strong and outshot the Canes 20-12 over that 20-minute span. Winnipeg evened the score when the Canes got into penalty trouble in the first period.
“As a whole, if you look at the four-game block, you go 2-1-1, and it’s a decent trip. But the way it ended up was tough,” head coach Paul Maurice said. “It was a very physical, hard-fought game in St. Louis. And I thought we came out of the gate against Winnipeg the way we wanted.”
“We had a pretty good road trip, but we wanted more points, definitely,” forward Jiri Tlusty
said. “We didn’t bring them home. But now we just have to focus. If the team sticks together and does all the things we plan to do, we’re going to be a strong team to play against tomorrow night.”
Though it is the shutdown line, the third combination of Tlusty, Brandon Sutter
and Patrick Dwyer
provided an offensive spark on the road trip. Over those four games, that line combined for 7 out of their season-total 9 points. They also were a combined plus-7 on the trip; on the season, the line is plus-8.
“It’s the structure of our team that’s very important in that we have a line like Brandon’s that’s playing against the other’s team’s best,” Maurice said. “And they’re a plus line.”
“Usually the top lines don’t want to play in their zones, so if you keep it simple in the neutral zone, you get it in their zone, and they usually don’t want to stay there. That’s our advantage,” Tlusty said. “We’re three fast guys so if we just keep it simple in their zone, it works for us, and we can create some chances.”
As that line stays consistent, the top two scoring lines have shifted around, especially on the wings as Maurice tries to find a combination that will produce more at even strength.
“It’s a group thing,” he said. “We’ve got some guys up front who we need to get going 5-on-5. We’ve got some groups that we like and some guys that we can improve a little.”Faulk Back in RaleighJustin Faulk
was back on the RBC Center ice today, recalled from Charlotte of the AHL. The rookie defenseman spent three games with the Checkers this weekend, notching a goal and an assist.
“He was just going down to play games for the weekend,” Maurice said. “That was decided last week. It won’t change the lineup for tomorrow.”
As of right now, this leaves the Canes with eight defensemen again, with Faulk and Joslin the odd-men out for tomorrow night’s tilt against Ottawa. But Charlotte doesn’t play again until Friday when they have another trio of weekend games. The Canes could keep Faulk here throughout the week for the NHL practices and send him down again on the weekend to see playing time.
Faulk skated in three games for the Canes before being sent down to Charlotte. He logged close to or over 18 minutes in each game, but did not record a point and was a -6.ROSTER NOTES: Anthony Stewart
was not at practice today ... Maurice said that Stewart was nursing a lower-body injury and would be evaluated again tomorrow