banner
Ryan Craig

Line change helps Staal break out just in time for Canes

Posted April 27, 2009

Before Sunday night, one thing was clear about the Carolina Hurricanes - in order for them to advance deep into the playoffs, they were going to need bigger contributions from the team’s best players than they had been getting in the postseason’s first five games.

Sure, offensive assistance from players like Jussi Jokinen (two goals and one assist) and Ryan Bayda (two goals) is great, and very valuable, but only if it’s a complement to the scoring from the team’s top lines, not a replacement for it.

That notion brings us to one of the biggest moves Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice has made during his team’s series – the shifting of Eric Staal off of his normal line with Tuomo Ruutu and Erik Cole, and onto one where he is flanked by Chad LaRose and Ray Whitney.

It’s a risky move, messing with the placement of the Canes’ franchise player, but it sparked what had been a mostly quiet Staal just when the team needed him most.

After registering just two goals and no assists in his team’s first five games against New Jersey, Staal racked up two goals and a helper in Sunday night’s 4-0 game six win alone.

An on-point Staal creates headaches for other teams, not just because of his tremendous scoring ability, but also because of his capacity for making plays for those around him.

Linemate Ray Whitney, who scored twice as many points Sunday night (four) as he had in the entire Devils series up that juncture when he wasn’t on the ice with Staal (two), was one of the closest witnesses to the difference number 12 can make when he’s on his game.

“It was good playing with him,” Whitney said. “The biggest thing is your best player, getting him going – when he’s going, he can win you a series. Tonight he got us to that next step and hopefully on Tuesday, not to put too much pressure on him, we hope he’ll continue to go on.”

It’s no coincidence that Carolina’s best game of the 2009 playoffs came on a night when its superstar was at his postseason best.

Now, Caniacs need to hope that the 6-foot-4 center is here to stay – otherwise their team could be headed for the offseason in less than 48 hours.

As for whether Maurice, the man behind the plan, would dare mess with the good thing the new line had going in game six, let’s just say he’s going with the “if it aint broke, don’t fix it policy.”

“You never know, there may be some road adjustments,” Maurice said with a smirk as the media broke out in laughter. “How long would I last on the bench? There’d be Hurricanes fans stringing me up. We were pretty happy with the way the lines played tonight, so I don’t think you’ll see too many adjustments.”

1 Comment

Please to add a comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • StunGunn Apr 27, 2009

    What a GREAT game! It was a Canes Clinic: explosive scoring and Ward said, "NO" all night long. It doesn't get any better than it did last night. Hope they can repeat it tomorrow night.

TV
  • NCAA: Division II Championship: Indiana (Pa.) vs. Florida Southern

    Today at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NCAAT: Teams TBD

    Tomorrow at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

Scoreboard
Local
Final
WAS 110
CHA 107
Final
LOU 75
NCSU 65
2nd
DUKE 62
UTAH 57
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
ATL
 
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
NJD
 
Final
ATL 4
BOS 2
Final
STL 5
NYM 4
Final
PHI 0
NYY 10
Final
MIN 2
PIT 4
Final
WAS 1
STL 1
4th
BAL 0
TAM 0
 
Final
TOR 4
DET 1
Final
CHC 6
CWS 3
Final
OAK 7
TEX 6
Final
ANA 2
ARI 7
Final
ARI 3
CLE 2
6:05pm Friday
HOU 0
MIA 0
 
Final
KAN 5
SEA 1
5th
SDP 2
COL 5
 
6th
CIN 5
MIL 7
 
7th
LOS 3
SFG 6
 
1:05pm Today
NYY
BAL
 
1:05pm Today
TAM
BOS
 
1:05pm Today
MIA
HOU
 
1:05pm Today
MIN
PHI
 
1:05pm Today
DET
STL
 
1:05pm Today
PIT
TOR
 
1:07pm Today
TOR
ATL
 
1:10pm Today
NYM
WAS
 
4:05pm Today
CIN
CHC
 
4:05pm Today
MIL
CLE
 
4:05pm Today
CHC
COL
 
4:05pm Today
CWS
OAK
 
4:05pm Today
TEX
SDP
 
4:05pm Today
SEA
SFG
 
4:10pm Today
ARI
KAN
 
4:10pm Today
ANA
LOS
 
Final
WAS 110
CHA 107
Final
ORL 97
DET 111
Final
PHI 98
LAC 119
Final
NYK 92
BOS 96
Final
BRK 106
CLE 98
Final
TOR 94
LAL 83
Final
ATL 99
MIA 86
Final
MEM 84
GSW 107
Final
HOU 120
MIN 110
Final
NOP 102
SAC 88
Final
SAN 94
DAL 76
Final
DEN 107
UTA 91
4th
PHO 76
POR 77
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
ATL
 
8:00pm Tonight
CHI
NYK
 
8:30pm Tonight
MIL
GSW
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
OKC
 
10:00pm Tonight
POR
DEN
 
Final
GONZ 74
UCLA 62
Final
LOU 75
NCSU 65
2nd
DUKE 62
UTAH 57
 
1st OT
NARZ 63
KSU 63
 
2nd
OKLA 51
MSU 54
 
6:09pm Tonight
WISC
ARZ
 
7:30pm Tonight
YALE
CAN
 
8:49pm Tonight
KENT
ND
 
Final
MIN 4
CAL 2
Final
CHI 2
CLB 5
3rd
EDM 4
DAL 0
 
12:30pm Today
WAS
NAS
 
1:00pm Today
NYI
ANA
 
1:00pm Today
PIT
ARI
 
1:00pm Today
BOS
NYR
 
1:00pm Today
PHI
SJS
 
2:00pm Today
DET
TAM
 
7:00pm Tonight
MON
FLA
 
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
NJD
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOR
OTT
 
8:00pm Tonight
STL
CLB
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
LOS
 
9:00pm Tonight
COL
BUF
 
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
DAL