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Keeping A Happy Face: Islanders At Hurricanes, Game Day Preview

The New York Islanders, (27-33-11) are in town and they will try to deepen the frustration levels and lessen the playoff hopes of the Carolina Hurricanes, (32-29-10) tonight at the RBC.

The Hurricanes are in a scoring funk, there is no denying that.  They have scored just nine goals in the last six games while compiling a 1-4-1 record, and they are in the midst of the most important part of their season.

There are a couple different ways you can handle this.  You can keep positive, keep plugging away, and keep reinforcing what you feel you are doing right, and then hope for better results, or you can scream, yell, and threaten the players that they are not coming back next year if they don't improve, perhaps shocking them into better results. 

Not surprisingly, the Hurricanes are employing the first strategy. 

The Canes feel that the effort is there.  They have been out-shooting and out-chancing teams in almost every loss.  Still, something is a bit off. 

Some fans feel like it might be fatigue, especially with Eric Staal.  The team captain played over 25 minutes on Wednesday night and averages more time on the ice than any other forward in the league.  But the center says that he's fine, although he has not scored in five games.

Yesterday, the team held a meeting and watched some film.  Chip, from Canes Now got some great quotes from coach Paul Maurice afterward.

"The energy on offense was exactly what we wanted it to be," coach Paul Maurice said today. "It is very frustrating for a group that has gone a bunch of games now and put up a tremendous amount of offense, not to have scored."


And another good quote:

"Our compete and our work level has been there in the last five or six games, to where it needs to be to win," he said. "These pucks are going to find the back of the net and we're going to get some wins."

It's hard to question that the work effort has been there for the most part, but still, it would seem that more adjustments need to be made, especially with the team's powerless, powerplay which has scored one goal in their last 31 chances, and four times out of the last 72. 

It's expected the team will stick with the same lineup as the past couple of games, meaning that Troy Bodie will be a healthy scratch.  Jamie McBain is still on the shelf.  But what are the lines?  Will Jeff Skinner get another shot on the Eric Staal line? 

Maurice took him off the line during the loss to the Leafs and put Cory Stillman and Erik Cole back with Staal.  Skinner was matched up with Tuomo Ruutu and Jussi Jokinen.  

We will provide updates in the comments as we see them.

Of course "iron man" Cam Ward will be in net.

The Islanders have been playing better of late.  They are 4-2-4 in their last 10 games, (the Canes are 4-5-1) and they have a 4-1-2 record in their last seven.  But they have not done well on the road and have lost five in a row away from the coliseum. 

Rick DiPietro was recently activated and could play tonight.  (no official word)  Justin DiBenedetto was sent back to Bridgeport.

The Islanders are led in scoring by John Tavares and Matt Moulson.  Of course, speedster Michael Grabner is another one to watch.

Our SBN partner, Lighthouse Hockey will have more info.

Hockeymom's updated game day guide is ready for print.

Canes Country's Game Guide: Hurricanes vs Islanders Mar 18

The Islanders should be the perfect team for the Canes to recapture their confidence with.  Carolina is 2-0-0 against them so far this year, with 7-2 and 4-2 wins.  They are also 15-3-3 against "the isle" in their last 21 meetings, dating back to 2006.   Will the Hurricanes finally break out in March?

If you can't make it to the rink, FS Carolinas will have the action starting at 7.  The open game thread/live blog will be ready to go at 6:30.