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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.”

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  • 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.

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
ROC 8
DUR 2
 
2:30pm Friday
STONYBROOK
NCSTATE
 
7:05pm Friday
SYR
DUR
 
6:35pm Saturday
SYR
DUR
 
5:05pm Sunday
SYR
DUR
 
Final
TEX 3
CLE 12
Final
COL 6
CIN 4
Final
MIA 2
PIT 5
Final
CWS 5
TOR 3
Final
KAN 2
NYY 4
Final
BOS 4
MIN 6
Final
PHI 0
NYM 7
Final
SEA 3
TAM 0
Final
SFG 3
MIL 1
Final
DET 3
OAK 2
Final
HOU 4
BAL 5
2nd
WAS 0
CHC 0
 
1st
ARI 0
STL 1
 
10:05pm Tonight
SDP
ANA
10:10pm Tonight
ATL
LOS
1:05pm Thursday
CWS
BAL
 
4:35pm Thursday
CWS
BAL
 
8:05pm Thursday
BOS
TEX
 
10:05pm Thursday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Thursday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Thursday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Thursday
PIT
SDP
 
10:15pm Thursday
ATL
SFG
 
4:05pm Friday
KAN
CHC
 
7:05pm Friday
COL
PHI
 
7:05pm Friday
TAM
BAL
 
7:10pm Friday
MIA
NYM
 
7:10pm Friday
WAS
CIN
 
8:05pm Friday
BOS
TEX
 
8:10pm Friday
ARI
MIL
 
8:10pm Friday
CWS
HOU
 
8:10pm Friday
TOR
MIN
 
8:15pm Friday
LOS
STL
 
10:05pm Friday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Friday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Friday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Friday
PIT
SDP
 
10:15pm Friday
ATL
SFG
 
2:10pm Saturday
TOR
MIN
 
3:05pm Saturday
COL
PHI
 
4:05pm Saturday
TAM
BAL
 
4:10pm Saturday
ARI
MIL
 
4:10pm Saturday
CWS
HOU
 
4:10pm Saturday
MIA
NYM
 
4:10pm Saturday
WAS
CIN
 
7:15pm Saturday
BOS
TEX
 
7:15pm Saturday
KAN
CHC
 
7:15pm Saturday
LOS
STL
 
10:05pm Saturday
ATL
SFG
 
10:05pm Saturday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Saturday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Saturday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Saturday
PIT
SDP
 
1:10pm Sunday
MIA
NYM
 
1:10pm Sunday
WAS
CIN
 
1:35pm Sunday
COL
PHI
 
1:35pm Sunday
TAM
BAL
 
2:10pm Sunday
ARI
MIL
 
2:10pm Sunday
CWS
HOU
 
2:10pm Sunday
TOR
MIN
 
2:15pm Sunday
LOS
STL
 
2:20pm Sunday
KAN
CHC
 
3:05pm Sunday
BOS
TEX
 
4:05pm Sunday
ATL
SFG
 
4:05pm Sunday
NYY
OAK
 
4:10pm Sunday
CLE
SEA
 
8:05pm Sunday
DET
ANA
 
9:10pm Sunday
PIT
SDP
 
9:00pm Tonight
HOU
GSW
9:00pm Friday
GSW
HOU
 
9:00pm Sunday
HOU
GSW
 
1st
ANA 0
CHI 0
 
8:00pm Friday
TAM
NYR
 
8:00pm Saturday
CHI
ANA
 
12:00pm Friday
AUBURN
CHARLESTON
 
1:00pm Friday
CALIFORNIA
CCAROLINA
 
1:00pm Friday
COLUMBIA
ECAROLINA
 
1:00pm Friday
ORALROBRTS
ARKANSAS
 
1:00pm Friday
OREGON
IOWA
 
1:00pm Friday
SFLORIDA
FAU
 
1:00pm Friday
WRIGHTST
NOTREDAME
 
2:00pm Friday
MICHIGAN
BRADLEY
 
2:30pm Friday
STONYBROOK
NCSTATE
 
2:30pm Friday
TEXAS
OREGONST
 
3:00pm Friday
INDIANA
RADFORD
 
3:30pm Friday
ULLAFAYETE
RICE
 
4:00pm Friday
LEHIGH
LSU
 
6:00pm Friday
CANISIUS
SWMISSOURI
 
6:00pm Friday
CLEMSON
ARIZONAST
 
6:00pm Friday
MERCER
FLORIDAST
 
6:00pm Friday
MOREHEADST
LOUISVILLE
 
6:00pm Friday
VIRGINIA
USC
 
7:00pm Friday
FIU
MIAFLA
 
7:00pm Friday
FLAAM
FLORIDA
 
7:00pm Friday
MARYLAND
MISS
 
7:00pm Friday
SACREDHART
TCU
 
7:00pm Friday
STJOHNS
OKLAHOMAST
 
7:00pm Friday
TSOUTHERN
TEXASAM
 
7:00pm Friday
VCU
DALLASBAPT
 
8:00pm Friday
HSTNBAPT
HOUSTON
 
8:00pm Friday
LIPSCOMB
VANDERBILT
 
8:00pm Friday
OHIO
ILLINOIS
 
8:00pm Friday
TULANE
NWILMINGTN
 
10:00pm Friday
PEPPERDINE
FULLERTON
 
10:00pm Friday
SANDIEGOST
CSANTABAR
 
11:00pm Friday
CSBAKER
UCLA
 
Final
ROC 8
DUR 2
 
7:05pm Friday
SYR
DUR
 
6:35pm Saturday
SYR
DUR
 
5:05pm Sunday
SYR
DUR