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Gameday: Hurricanes vs. Bruins

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes

As if the Carolina Hurricanes didn’t need another hurdle to jump over in order to get their first win of the season, the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins will be opposite them on the ice tonight.

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Even still, the team believes tonight is as good a chance as any to grab two points.

“Confidence is always the critical issue when you’re not winning hockey games, but it has to be based on how you feel you’re playing and the good things you’re doing,” head coach Paul Maurice said. “There’s enough in our game right now that we should be able to keep our confidence.

“Every team will go through this exact challenge – how do you keep feeling good about yourself when the wins say you shouldn’t? So we reinforce the good things that we’re doing.”

The Bruins might be facing similar challenges, as they find themselves at just 1-2 three games into the season. Three games into the 2006-07 season, the then-defending-champion Hurricanes were 0-2-1.

Only three players from the Canes’ Cup-winning roster remain in the locker room today – Eric Staal, Cam Ward and Chad LaRose. As someone who has been there in experiencing the pressure to shake the “Stanley Cup hangover,” Staal knows how to approach the Bruins tonight.

 “For us, we want to make it difficult on them,” he said. “We want to make sure they don’t get a good feeling, especially early. You want to be aggressive, you want to be on them. When you’re aggressive, their passing and their ability to make plays is limited and frustration starts to build – for any team, but especially for a team that won it all last year.

“They know what it is that makes them feel good, and if you can get aggressive, get on them and be in their face, it will only help you to get in a position to win the game.”

Defenseman Jamie McBain will replace Justin Faulk in the lineup tonight. McBain was paired with Joni Pitkanen during the morning skate, a duo that will see time tonight.

“[McBain’s] got some good chemistry with Joni,” Maurice said. “He played well with him last year. We’re expecting a pretty inspired game from him.”

Maurice said McBain would also skate on a power play unit tonight, a position that is not unfamiliar to him.

“He has some offensive gifts. We know he can shoot the puck, make plays and join the rush,” Maurice said. “We’re hoping to get some more action off our second unit.”

Maurice also hinted at juggling the lines before or during the game tonight but said he was close to feeling a comfort level with some of the combinations he has put together.

“We’re getting closer to the structure that we’ve liked in the past – some offensive lines and some good defensive structured lines as well,” he said.

Defending Stanley Cup Champions or otherwise, the bottom line is that the Canes need a win, especially considering the forthcoming four-game road trip that includes dates with Buffalo, Boston, St. Louis and Winnipeg.

“We want to have that edge to our game. We need to. We need a win. We need to get the job done,” Staal said. “We’re playing a very good team, but we’re in our building.

“I think the guys are excited. We had a good skate this morning – upbeat, snapping the pucks around – so we have to bring that energy and that enthusiasm and just get a win.”

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