They’ve lost nine consecutive games and haven’t won since beating the Panthers Oct. 9. They’ve scored only 15 goals in their last eight games, they’re ranked 29th in the league in points, dead last in goals, and been outscored 20-9 in the second period. They’ll also be without Eric Staal for several games due to an upper-body injury.
All of which makes the Hurricanes a scary opponent Wednesday for the Panthers at BankAtlantic Center.
“I have no doubt we’re going to see Carolina’s best game,” said Panthers coach Peter DeBoer late Tuesday morning after practice at incredible ICE. “These streaks all end at some point. They’re a much better team than their record or the losing streak indicates.
“This is a very dangerous game. I’d almost rather see a team come in here on a nine game winning streak than a nine game losing streak. That doesn’t sound right, but I really believe that. We’re going to see a Game 7, Stanley Cup-type performance out of Carolina. We have to be prepared for that. I’ve been on the other side of that losing streak and the desperation level of your players is through the roof and that’s a big part of the game. So we’re going to have to match that.”
Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice has been perplexed by his team’s performance.
“It’s a different fire each day,” he told the News and Observer. “We’re all taken aback. That’s part of it. Things you’ve seen work well in the past haven’t, and areas you're expected to be (strong) aren’t.”
GM Jim Rutherford stepped up this week and took blame for shortening training camp and playing only four preseason games. “I take full responsibility for what’s happened,” he said. “The players probably were not in game shape with too few preseason games. It worked in that our injuries were down, but we were not in game shape.”
DeBoer said he talked to his friend Maurice when both teams were going through a losing streak. But after reeling off consecutive victories in Dallas and St. Louis over the weekend, DeBoer smiled and said, “He would have thought I was a little disingenuous after I won two in a row.”
Radek Dvorak (knee) skated for the second consecutive day and DeBoer said there was an “outside chance” he might be able to play over the weekend when the Panthers play a home-and-home series against the Capitals beginning Friday at BankAtlantic Center. For the Capitals, Coach Bruce Bodreau said Alex Ovechkin, who suffered a upper-body injury Sunday against the Blue Jackets, was “probable for the weekend.” Ovechkin is listed as week-to-week.
Panthers center Dominic Moore is still recovering from nasal surgery and did not skate.
QUOTES OF THE DAY
“Tie, you really pulsated tonight, and I don’t mind saying so.” Judge Dick Button after watching former NHL tough guy Tie Domi compete on the CBC’s Battle of the Blades, Canada’s version of ‘Dancing With The Stars.’
“They looked like the Harlem Globetrotters for a couple of shifts there, and they’re not even a physical team.” Oilers coach Pat Quinn, referring Monday to the Islanders after they beat the Oilers 3-1.
Just a bit more on Ovechkin: He’s signed a deal with mega-marketing company IMG. Ovechkin is IMG’s only hockey player. Its other clients include Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova, Peyton Manning, Venus Williams and Arnold Palmer.
Phil Kessel is expected to make his Toronto debut tonight against the Lightning. GM Brian Burke cautions: “One player seldom has a dramatic impact on a team’s performance. And this young man hasn’t played a game in six months.”
By the way, Steven Stamkos returns to Toronto tonight tied for second in the league in goals with 11.