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The Official Site of the Carolina Hurricanes


by Staff Writer / Carolina Hurricanes
JANUARY 20, 1:30 p.m.
TV – FOX 50
Fresh off of a 4-2 defeat of the Boston Bruins, the Carolina Hurricanes took the ice at noon today for a light practice in preparation for tomorrow’s game against the Los Angeles Kings.

NOTES: Hurricanes defenseman Glen Wesley will play in his 1,000th career NHL game Saturday against Los Angeles… Defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh was removed from the Injured Reserve list Thursday and will play in the Hurricanes game Saturday against Los Angeles… Defenseman David Tanabe is plus-10 in his last six games… Center Ron Francis is five points away from his 1,600th NHL career point and one goal shy of tying Darryl Sittler for 33rd on the NHL’s all-time goal scorers list… The Hurricanes are on a nine-game unbeaten streak (12/31-1/18: 7-0-2-0), nine-game home unbeaten streak (12/15-1/18: 8-0-1-0) and a three-game winning streak (1/14-1/18: 3-0-0-0)… Hurricanes goaltender Arturs Irbe is expected to start his 32nd consecutive game in net and appear in his 33rd consecutive game against Los Angeles on Saturday…


Coach Paul Maurice:

On the Hurricanes recent success:
“There are two or three situations over the course of the year. Back, the first time we were in trouble we went into Toronto four games under .500 and we were getting beat 5-0 halfway through that game. Some things were said between periods, mostly by the players and we came out and played a very gritty, strong game and went on a pretty good run after that. We struggled through December. We had a very poor showing in the Island. We had a very difficult week here and the guys responded to that. We’ve got a scrapy group. They’re very resilient and we’ve played a much better positional game as a team. A number of our players, probably not a conscious decision, but the “team first” concept really came out last month. We started doing some of the little detailed things much better that were costing us games. We had success immediately and now it becomes something that’s much more ingrained in our group.”

On goaltender Arturs Irbe:
“If you take a look at our schedule the last two months you see that we have not played a lot of back-to-back situations. We’ve had a lot of rest, actually, with our schedule. We’ve only played 44 games in the league—we’re right down at the bottom with the other teams. Some teams have five or six games in-hand. So, our schedule has been spread out. Arturs is an unusual subject. This man, there’s no question in my mind, works himself considerably harder on his days off, when he’s not playing, than he does when he’s playing in a game. I think he’s better rested now than he would be if we had given him three or four games off. He’s not a slight guy. He’s a very stocky, sturdy man. We will be looking to get our backup in, probably not until February when our schedule gets a little heavier and we start to see a lot more back-to-back games.”

With defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh and Kevin Hatcher returning to the lineup in the Hurricanes’ next two games, questions rise about Carolina’s back end.

On being without Hatcher and Ozolinsh on defense:
“Three of our younger defenseman have done a great job. David Tanabe, now 20 years old, playing 20-plus minutes per night. He’s moved up from where we played him earlier in the year and he’s played outstanding. The two guys who have found themselves in and out of our lineup, Nic Wallin and Marek Malik—Nic Wallin more because of injury and Marek Malik more because we didn’t feel that we were getting the physical play out of him that we needed—have come in and understood that if they did what they were asked to do and played as well and as hard as they have, they’re not going to come out of the lineup regardless of who comes back. With Sandis back for tomorrow’s game—which is important, we needed that help on our power play, that’s an area that, in some ways has struggled, bringing the the puck up the ice and he can help us there. But the players have gone in and done a great job and I’m not really looking to take them out of the lineup.”

On how defensive pairings will change with Hatcher and Ozolinsh back in the lineup:
“Steve’s (Halko) coming out. Ozo will play with Nic Wallin on his off-side. It’s more of a function of leaving the other two sets together. Tanabe and Wesley have played so well together and Marek Malik and Dave Karpa have played well together…”

On Marek Malik:
“Marek has just played better and better and we’ve just played him more and more. His confidence is there. He just keeps doing it. With our defenseman, in the last we’ve really gotten away from the names on the backs of their jerseys, or how much they’re supposed to play, or how old they are. Tanabe has played outstanding for us in that stretch, skating very well, and Malik and Wallin.”

On the Los Angeles Kings:
“You look at the numbers and I’m not sure that they’re accurate. The offensive ones are, but I still believe that this is a good defensive team. I think that they play a system strong enough and that their back end is strong enough that they can be a very good defensive team. You’ve got to get what you can get on these guys. They can score seven on you—and those are two of the best teams in our conference. Ottawa doesn’t give up that many goals that often. So, we’re not really sure. We don’t see them enough to know, ‘this is their trademark game,’ and, ‘this is how the games are going to be played’. We skated well. Hopefully we should be able to at least match their skate—they’ve got guys that skate well.’

On David Tanabe:
“He’s just skating very, very well. I think that we’ve been better defensively. I think our defensive zone coverage has been better. I think flourished in that because he’s a smart player. We’ve gotten a little bit more systemized and a little bit more detailed in our own end so it’s easier for him to read and he’s smart enough to pick up on that. The majority of things he does are based on his skating—defensively as well. He just seems to be getting stronger. Confidence is a big part of it for a 20-year old kid and I think that’s one of the benefits that he’s had. He’s made a few mistakes—not many, but he’s made a few and I felt that earlier in the year, if he made that mistake it took him a little while to shake it off and then there were some games where he didn’t shake it off but he doesn’t do that now. If he has a giveaway or if he gets beat one-on-one or something like that happens down in our end, it’s not effecting him, and that’s a real good sign that he can shake it off and come back and give us a pretty good shift.”

On Glen Wesley playing in his 1,000th career NHL game vs. Los Angeles:
“Wes is a guy that we just like to take for granted. He’s one of those guys—almost always healthy. He broke a bone in his hand and his foot before he started a game this year and didn’t miss a game. Just kept playing. Just tape him up and send him out. He’s been a real solid guy for us. He won’t put up the numbers that even he would like or that people might expect but he’s been a real defenseman for us over the long haul. He’s played very well.”

Defenseman David Tanabe:

Defenseman David Tanabe has gone from minus-10 plus/minus ranking to even in the past six games. Tanabe is happy with the turnaround.

On his plus/minus improvement:
“Plus/Minus is kind of a deal where a lot of times it’s not your fault if you get a minus but it was a big goal of mine to get back to even on that. I guess when the team plays well then persoonal statistics like that seem to turn around.”

“I think we’ve been able to execute our systems and execute overall. If you look at the statistics on the lines that I’ve been playing against, they’ve been minus for the most part. Last night, the line I played against was minus one and I was plus one. As much as it’s a big deal to get a plus, I take a lot of pride in seeing the lines I’m playing against get minuses.”

On his improvement recovering from mistakes:
“I’ve really learned that, in this league, it’s a long season and when bad things happen on the ice, take it for what it is and learn from it. Instead of letting it affect my confidence I’m just using it as a learning tool.”

On being paired with Paul Coffey and Glen Wesley since entering the NHL last season:
“From Coff I learned how to jump into a play and create offense. He taught me a lot about how to create offense off of the rush and I think that’s something that has been what my game has been about all year. Breaking the puck out and creating offense by getting the puck to our forwards in scoring position. And Glen, he’s Mr. Consistency. Every single night it seems like he’s going to go out and put in a solid performance. From watching the way he handles himself on and off the ice is a big contributing factor to him always being able to be consistent. I’ve picked up on some of those things.”

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