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Erin Summers

Staal leading Hurricanes charge

Posted February 15, 2013

The Carolina Hurricanes came back from a six game, 12-day road-trip Thursday to face the Toronto Maple Leafs and interest was high as fans waited to see if the road production would continue. 

During the road trip the Hurricanes grabbed nine of a possible 12 points, winning four games, three in regulation and one in overtime. Things seemed to finally be clicking for the team behind the play of captain Eric Staal. 

With the lockout, new additions to the squad Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin and no real training camp, team chemistry took time to develop. Skepticism was natural as the Canes struggled through the first few games, but the team that look destined for success on paper has come to life in the past two weeks. 

"In the beginning we had about seven new guys, when that happens they are trying to get the system down and even just get to know the players," said head coach Kirk Muller. "I think they are now, they are playing well together, they're having fun and they're playing for eachother. It's their team."

Eric Staal is on an 11-game point streak (the longest such streak in the NHL this season), notching 17 points off of eight goals and nine assists. The center currently leads the league in plus-minus at 12. Much of the captain's success can be attributed to the addition of Semin to the first line. Semin has three goals and seven assists so far this season. With Staal's play being complimented by his wingman, he's had the opportunity to play more of a coaching role, much to the benefit of his teammates. 

Back home Thursday, fans were treated to one of the most solid games the team has played in 2013. With Dan Ellis in goal the Canes took a 3-1 victory over Toronto. Recent re-addition Joe Corvo had the first score of the game in the second thanks to an Eric Staal assist. Jussi Jokinen and Jordan Staal also scored in the second to secure the victory. 

"This was the game that probably scared us the most, you come off that road trip and sometimes the guys drop their guard a little bit and have a little bit of a lull, but I give our leaders credit. They had all the guys ready to go from the start," Muller said after the game.

Jordan Staal's production continues to increase, his second goal of the season brought him to 12 points on the year, ranking him third on the team. He trails his brother and third year player Jeff Skinner. 

After winning rookie of the year in his first season, Skinner had a 'down year' last season. Hurricanes fans are happy to see the young talent back in the scoring column on a regular basis. Skinner is on pace to hit 51 points this year, one point more than he had in a full season last year.

The Hurricanes now have a three-day break before heading to play the Montreal Canadiens Monday. They'll be back in the PNC again next Thursday, and the way things are going Canes fans could expect hockey around here for a lot longer than that this season.

12 Comments

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  • giantfan1956 Feb 17, 2:31 p.m.

    P.s i dont think Rutuu will be able to make it back

  • giantfan1956 Feb 17, 2:29 p.m.

    Skinner is not making trip to montreal, upper body injury, he had hurt his neck, u could see him twisting it on the bench.. Hopefully, nothing too bad.. just precautionary

  • hockeywriter Feb 16, 8:01 a.m.

    Very good article. EStaal is now playing his size: big and strong. Skinner is back to form because JStaal is playing his size: big and strong. Both lines have fire power and are dangerous on every shift. Toronto made it obvious what that game was going to be like, especially if you watched the warmups. Mueller made one of the gutsiest moves of the season, going for size, playing Westgarth and Wallace. For the most part in hockey, size does matter. There are some smaller super stars and rarely do you see mammoth players like Chara that good. Most team average 6'+, 201 #. This is the first year in many years the Canes have come close to that average---and with skill. Last year, the times Staal and Tlusti didn't have Skinner on the line, they had smaller players who weren't real threats. Most teams doubled up on Staal and that was a huge reason he lead the team and league on the +/-. This year they added Semin, another huge threat, and now Staal leads the team and league in +/-. No real surprise. The heavyweight bout in the first 5 minutes set the tone of the game and really got the Caniacs into the game. It also sent the message if you want to go physical, have at it. Any time, any corner, any alley. The Canes are playing lights out hockey and the Caniacs have reason to love it. It will only get better when Ruutu returns. Yes, there are similarities with the 2006 team, both led by excellent captains, but this team does have its own identity. The 2006 team had a stronger D and we need to get better defensively all over, not only on the man down situations. Go Canes!

  • Ohprah Feb 15, 11:22 p.m.

    GREAT to see them mesh as a team and get the job done. Hoping for Lightning payback next week.

    — Posted by common tater

    Agreed about Tampa Bay - they have been a thorn in the side of the Canes for a while.

    I'm glad... View More

    — Posted by GunnyGoesArrrgh

    Please stop living in the past.
    Tired of hearing about Cole.
    How many years are you going to whine about Cam Ward after he's gone.

  • 321oohaw Feb 15, 10:17 p.m.

    It's one thing to see the team playing so well, but the way they've done it is remarkable. With... View More

    — Posted by PanthersFan45

    Well they better buy soon because season tickets are going fast. Ticket sales are through the... View More

    — Posted by NoDumpingThePuck

    ...I agree, the tickets are being gobbled up by the SW programming dads and soccer mom families. Gives them something to talk about at SAS and IBM on Monday mornings and at the Go Ask Mom outings.

  • NoDumpingThePuck Feb 15, 7:30 p.m.

    It's one thing to see the team playing so well, but the way they've done it is remarkable. With... View More

    — Posted by PanthersFan45

    Well they better buy soon because season tickets are going fast. Ticket sales are through the roof. This season is already reminding me of 2006 in many ways. If we can cut down on the PP's given, we can compete with anyone 5 on 5. We have TWO solid goaltenders and a good combination of youth and experience. Stay healthy and there will be some awesome tailgating at the PNC arena in June.

  • PanthersFan45 Feb 15, 5:16 p.m.

    It's one thing to see the team playing so well, but the way they've done it is remarkable. With the 4-1-1 mark on the road they managed wins over some very good teams, including New Jersy & Ottawa who are among the top teams in the East. I hope they keep this up .... they've typically had great success against Montreal so I'm optimistic they can win at the Bell Centre next week. I'll bet anyone who gave up their season tickets during the lockout are regretting it now. This is an excellent Hockey team.

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Feb 15, 4:03 p.m.

    GREAT to see them mesh as a team and get the job done. Hoping for Lightning payback next week.

    — Posted by common tater

    Agreed about Tampa Bay - they have been a thorn in the side of the Canes for a while.

    I'm glad the team chemistry is improving, and Muller's tinkering with the lines has paid off. This is the Staal we love to see. When he clicks with the players on his line, good things happen. I remember when Cole came back and Staal's productivity jumped up.

  • common tater Feb 15, 3:24 p.m.

    GREAT to see them mesh as a team and get the job done. Hoping for Lightning payback next week.

  • Hokies94 Feb 15, 3:22 p.m.

    6 games in 12 days! How do they do this? Obviously these guys have to be in top physical condition. I'm glad they are cashing in on some wins.

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