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Canes look to fill up TV screen

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Canes coach Paul Maurice said one goal against the Dallas Stars tomorrow would be to fill up the television screen.

Confusing? Not really. Maurice said he simply wants his five skaters in the game, whoever they might be, to be moving as one and in proper position.

"Move as five," he said today. "Move as five on the puck, support the puck and make sure we're coming to the puck instead of going away from it.

"One of the first signs of a team that is struggling or you're just not as intense as you'd like them to be, when you're watching it on TV you don't see enough guys in the screen. They're spreading out, the gaps are too big, the D aren't up with the forwards on the rush or defensively they're sagging back too much.

"Move as five. When a team is going well, you can see there's five guys on the screen. That was the main focus (in practice): puck support, moving as five."

Another objective for the Canes is a faster start. For whatever reason — blame the schedule for too many games in compact periods of time, or having too many days between games — the Canes have been slow getting started in recent games.

"We're as rested as we can be," he said. "So the concerns you look for now is how sharp will we be out of the gate. You go back and look at our last bulk of games and we haven't been quick out of the gate as it was, so we like to think we saved some energy and at the same time covered some things."

Everyone was at today's practice at the RecZone and ready to play on the two-game trip. The lines today had Eric Staal centering Tuomo Ruutu and Sergei Samsonov; Brandon Sutter with Jeff Skinner and Erik Cole; Pat Dwyer centering Chad LaRose and Jussi Jokinen; and Ryan Carter with Troy Bodie and Jiri Tlusty. The D pairs are unchanged.





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Moving as Five

One issue that comes up with the Hurricanes is that of pure speed and skating.  The Hurricanes system works far better with fast and aggressive skaters; but it also requires extreme attention to detail.  In many of the scores, players with all tremendous intentions are out of position. Specifically, one will see no high forward and suddenly the opposing team is screaming down the ice with an odd man rush. 

  I personally see a correlation between which lines are on the ice and the amount of open ice the opposing team enjoys.  The blazingly fast players who also skate extremely well like Sutter, Dwyer, Skinner (who is much faster than some people realize)  Staal, and Pitkanen have an advantage because they have the benefit of make-up speed and agility.    For Harrison or Samsonov, by contrast, the lack of make-up speed means once they are out of position, it's harder for them to recover.  LaRose sometimes is so caught up in the fight for the puck, he doesn't stay in a position to give support to the defense. 

   Hopefully, as the players get more familiar with each other and their roles, the Canes will be swarming in a group of five and skating downhill.  When they have their game going, it's really fun to watch. 


Players like Cullen (another

Players like Cullen (another fast skater), Whitney, Hedican, and Kapanen thrived in this system. For slow players, it's a struggle. The downside of the Canes system is the difficulty in building a roster that is both fast and big. That's why JR paid Pitkanen so much.

I remember a game early in Tanabe's career when there was a breakaway. The other team's forward had two full strides on Tanabe, who caught him from behind before there was a shot. The forward (I forget who) was astonished. Tanabe had weaknesses in his game, but before his injuries he was a fast guy for his size.

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About the blogger

A Raleigh native, Chip has worked at the N&O since 1979 and is the Canes beat writer. He can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter at @ice_chip.