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Maurice Expecting Same Old Devils

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes
Paul Maurice audio

The Canes may have gotten a break last night, as New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur was successful in his bid to become the NHL’s all-time wins leader and will thus sit tonight in favor of former Hurricane Kevin Weekes, at least according to Devils’ coach Brent Sutter.

Paul Branecky
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It actually was a pretty solid night around the league for the Hurricanes, at least the way I see it. As discussed on yesterday's podcast, I’m of the opinion that, in this case, all you really need is the teams below you in the standings to lose. 

That happened with both Buffalo and Florida, keeping the Canes in eighth place. Even though Montreal, the Rangers and Pittsburgh all got points, and I’m not saying you should stop rooting against them, that just damages the Hurricanes’ chances of getting all the way up to the fifth seed. As long as the Canes stay ahead of the Panthers and Sabres, they are assured of finishing no lower than eighth and will be just fine.

While we’re on the subject, how about the Penguins? At the rate they’re going, it looks like Pittsburgh will not only get in, but will also become the team no one wants to play in the first round. That’s a remarkable turnaround under new coach Dan Bylsma, who is now 11-1-3 as an NHL head coach.

Back to the Hurricanes, it won’t matter that Brodeur sits if the Canes fail to take advantage. Both Weekes and Scott Clemmensen have put up solid numbers for the Devils this season, as they are a team that rarely hangs their goaltender out to dry. Weekes is 7-4-0 with a 2.27 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.

Besides the goaltending change, Canes Coach Paul Maurice also downplayed the significance of New Jersey having played an emotional game last night while his team is on three days of rest.

“I guess the feeling is that with a lot of other teams you would expect a certain drop-off because of the emotions, except New Jersey is just not built like that,” he said. “They’ll take pride in the fact that there won’t be, and I’m sure that’s what they’ll be talking about coming on the ice.”

Although the Hurricanes have just 11 games remaining, three are against the Devils, including tonight’s contest. It’s a strange quirk in the schedule that has seen Carolina face off with the likes of Phoenix and St. Louis more often up until this point.

“I was pretty excited about that when I got here, because we still had to face Boston, we still had to face New Jersey and we had five left against Washington,” Maurice said, with obvious and heavy sarcasm. “But I don’t know that there is an advantage in the schedule when you see teams like Tampa and Atlanta winning games.”

As expected yesterday, Patrick Eaves is in and Scott Walker is out, bringing no changes to the team’s lines from Tuesday’s practice. – Depth Chart

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