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Mike Maniscalco

Rest to the rescue for Hurricanes?

Posted March 25, 2013
Updated March 26, 2013

Three games does not make a season, but for the Hurricanes, the next three games could break the season.

A five-game winless streak has put Carolina on the outside of the playoffs looking in, with injuries and inconsistent efforts to blame for the team only picking up a single point during that stretch.

A scheduling quirk has given the Canes four days off, which allowed the coaching staff to give the players the weekend off to rest and hopefully recover. Will time away to refocus be the tonic for the team?

For head coach Kirk Muller, the time away from the rink should help the team remember what they are capable of.

“A couple of days to get physically rested again and look at what we are all about," he said Monday. Carolina Hurricanes Logo More Hurricanes Stories

The Canes face Southeast Division-leading Winnipeg twice with a trip to playoff-starved Toronto in between. The good news is Kirk Muller’s crew has three games in hand on the division leaders and a chance to cut into the Jets four-point lead. The chasing team wants to have games in hand, but that only matters if those contests turn into wins.

There are 18 games left in the regular season, but Muller knows that with the compressed schedule the regular season is already over.

“At the end of the day you are in the playoffs right now,” he said.

Injuries have cut into the Canes' blue line the past two weeks, as Justin Faulk, Joe Corvo and now Bobby Sanguinetti have seen time on the injured list. The injuries to the defensive corps have come fast and furious.

It has seemed that when one player returns to the ice, another defensemen is heading off it. The four days off might be enough time to help veteran Joe Corvo get back into the game, as the team took him off the injured list Monday.

Of course, injuries have had a hand in this skid, but it is the declining goal total during the losing streak that is raising red flags.

The top line had been carrying the offensive load this season. Eric Staal, Jiri Tlusty and Alexander Semin have scored 41.2 percent of the team’s goals this season, but it has felt like more. When the team was rolling, there was more than just some punch coming from the other lines/ Recently, that well has been coming up dry.

Six goals in five games and a power play that is near the bottom of the league have had a bigger impact on this slide than any injury. The front lines that were attacking the opposition at a ferocious pace have stalled out, with the team scoring more than a goal once in that span.

Muller is putting the onus on that group to get back in gear.

“Talked to our forwards about their job that we asked them to do at the start is to work hard and skate hard and be relentless," he said. "Track pucks down and track them back. There is a lot of demand on our forwards to skate in our system.”

Perhaps Alexander Semin can reignite the offense after receiving a five-year extension. It is fair to expect a burst in his play that rewards the team for the faith they have shown in the winger after exceeding expectations on and off the ice. With 30 points in 30 games, it is hard to think he can give more, but Semin is a player capable taking over a game offensively, which the Canes could use this week.

This stretch might just determine if the Hurricanes can get back to the hockey that put them in first place or continue down the road that could leave them with a long off season.

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  • Chill Out Mar 26, 2:54 p.m.

    Over the last two seasons, the Canes went on a roll at the end of the season. THe problem was they were to far out of playoff spots to get into the postseason. They are in much better shape this year and have a much better team.

    They will get their scoring back...

  • thatrollslayer Mar 26, 1:21 p.m.

    So last week we called the NJ game a MUST WIN, but this one is seriously a MUST WIN, especially against the Jets.

  • firefly27616 Mar 26, 11:46 a.m.

    Nobody cares about your injury woes or your special teams troubles...just win baby! Suck it up and win. The Canes have had too many years of almost 9th place finishes in the East...the concept is simple, win the games you are supposed to win to make the playoffs, divisional opponent, SE division leader, four days rest for teh Canes, home ice...two points in regulation tonight and then wash, rinse, repeat.

  • Cragsdale Mar 26, 11:35 a.m.

    the comments amongst the neophytes is some funny stuff on here. the cries of the unbelievers and uninitiated are even more so. Get a grip people. No one goes cellar dwelling just because of division realignment. No one has missed the playoffs this year yet. Grow a pair and support your team and stop whining and crying like a bunch of female dogs.

    Go Canes!!

  • Tunaboy Mar 26, 8:57 a.m.

    making the playoffs will come down to the Canes power play ... if they can start getting some production from the power play they will be in ... otherwise, they will be out

  • same ole story Mar 26, 8:40 a.m.

    This season is the LAST SHOT they have at a playoff run. Next year they will be the cellar dwellers when the new divisions are made. Look at the production this year against the top teams. Getting beat on both ends of the ice. The record is fluff this year with a very weak schedule. Anything can happen in the playoffs BUT you have to get there first.

  • jsnarron Mar 26, 7:32 a.m.

    Looks like a dissapointing end what could have been a special season!!

  • StunGunn Mar 26, 6:51 a.m.

    I think this break may be just what the Canes needed to get rest and refocus, and Muller is right: this IS playoff hockey right now. Hopefully Semin will continue to give the much needed scoring spark. With the conference realignment looming, it's more important than ever for the Canes to make the playoffs this year.

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