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Muller still seeking first win as 'Canes visit Calgary

by David Kalan
HURRICANES (8-16-4) at FLAMES (11-13-2)


Last 10: Carolina 2-7-1; Calgary 4-5-1.

Season Series: This is the only meeting of the season between Carolina and Calgary. The Hurricanes topped the Flames in their only game in 2010-11, 6-5, in a shootout at the RBC Center on Jan. 11.

Big Story: After getting swept on a three-game homestand, the Hurricanes will look to snap out of the funk -- and give new coach Kirk Muller his first NHL win, when they open a four-game road trip in Calgary Tuesday night.

Team Scope:

Hurricanes: What has been a very difficult start of the season in Carolina led to Paul Maurice losing his job last week, and while the front office is certainly hoping for change with Kirk Muller at the helm, it hasn't come just yet. The Hurricanes are 0-3-0 since Muller took over and are winless in six straight games overall. Tuesday night will be the team's first road game under Muller as the Canes open up a four-game trip that will go through Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto.

For any chance of turning around the season, the Canes will have to get to work quickly. Carolina has the fewest points in the Eastern Conference and with the surprising Panthers holding a double-digit advantage over the Canes in the standings, any hopes of a Southeast title may already be shot. It doesn't help when you've given up more goals than any other team in the League, but if fans ar elooking for someone to blame they should stop short of goalie Cam Ward, whose high goals-against average may be less a result of his own play and more a result of having faced the most shots in the League.

Flames: Calgary's fortunes have certainly been better than they are now. The Flames sit last in the Northwest, which surely wasn't their plan when the season started, but there is sign that light may be at the end of the tunnel yet. The Flames' 5-1 loss to Vancouver Sunday was their first in regulation since being shut out by St. Louis 10 days ago. Since then Calgary has gone 3-1-1 as it starts to make a move up the Western Conference standings.

The Flames wouldn't be in the postseason if the season ended today, but the West's top eight is far from out of reach, and with a three-game homestand opening Tuesday night that will feature Carolina, Colorado and Edmonton, now may be the time to strike if they want to make up more ground in the playoff chase. After this homestand the road gets tougher as Calgary plays 11 of its next 13 games on the road.

Who's Hot: Is Eric Staal starting to snap out of his season-long funk? The Hurricanes' captain has four points in his last four games. ... Rene Bourque has four points in his last three games for Calgary.

Injury Report: Don't expect Miikka Kiprusoff's workload to decrease any time soon. Backup goalie Henrik Karlsson was placed on IR Monday with a sprained right MCL. As well, Mark Giordano is out indefinitely after rupturing tendons in his leg last week. Jay Harrison is questionable for Carolina with an upper-body injury.

Stat Pack: Despite having one of the League's most gifted goaltenders in Cam Ward, the Hurricanes' defense has been poor enough to give up a League-high 94 goals this season. Calgary may not be the team best equipped to take advantage, however. Only one team in the NHL has scored fewer goals than the 60 the Flames have put up this season.

Puck Drop: A coaching change can sometimes have a very real impact as far as turning around a team's season, but that turnaround has yet to take hold in Carolina. Canes fans who are hoping it takes hold while the team is elsewhere, however, may be in for some disappointment. Carolina has won just one of its last eight games on the road.

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