Originally posted on Fox Sports Carolinas  |  Last updated 2/3/12
The Hurricanes are approaching the final two-plus months of the season with an attitude that they must keep improving. It might be a stretch of positive thinking to suggest they can work their way into the playoff picture. Thursday night's 3-0 victory at Boston helped matters as the Hurricanes began a stretch of six road games across an eight-game period. So the big-picture approach is the best way to go about business. "I want to see a team that looks like it's capable of winning every night," coach Kirk Muller said. "I think it's important that we come down with a good competitive stretch." If goalie Cam Ward puts together more 47-save outings for shutouts as he did against the Bruins, it will help matters. The outlook for the Hurricanes as defined by Muller could involve an influx of young players receiving opportunities to show what they can do. While it's still too early to totally dismiss the prospects for this season's team, there's also the reality that the Hurricanes must prepare for the future. The next step in that process comes Saturday night at home against the Los Angeles Kings. NOTES --The Carolina franchise swept the Boston Bruins for the first time in history, winning all four meetings. With Boston one of the NHL's top teams and the Hurricanes struggling to move out of the Eastern Conference basement, the results are head scratching. The Hurricanes had gained points in every game during a season against Boston, twice going in 3-0-1. This, however, marks the first time the Carolina franchise has ever swept a reigning Stanley Cup champion when there has been more than one meeting in a season. "It's a good test, it's a good challenge," coach Kirk Muller said of facing the Bruins, who once were fierce rivals of the franchise during the days of the Hartford Whalers. --The Hurricanes had an eight-game streak without allowing a power-play goal end when the New York Islanders scored two of those in the first game back from the All-Star break. "The tough part for us was we weren't really sure what was going wrong," center Brandon Sutter said. So a 17-for-17 streak of penalty kills ended, but the Hurricanes started a new streak and added to that by killing two Boston power plays (both abbreviated to less than two minutes) on Thursday night. PLAYER NOTES D Derek Joslin could be facing a key stretch as he could be the odd-man out among defensemen. D Jaroslav Spacek returned from an injury for Thursday night's game, leaving Joslin as a healthy scratch. Joslin has played fine at times, but he hasn't done anything to the point where he was guaranteed keeping a spot in the lineup. LW Chad LaRose might take some time to get back to form after missing a couple of weeks because of an injury suffered in practice. His situation was further complicated because he missed Thursday night's game because of illness. D Tim Gleason recorded his 100th career assist in his first game after signing a four-year contract extension. Gleason played in his 400th game with the Hurricanes during the weekend prior to the All-Star break and that makes him the franchise's longest-serving active defenseman. Until he signed a four-year contract extension, his name had been coming up in some trade speculation and so there was uncertainty about the former U.S. Olympian's time with the organization. MEDICAL WATCH LW Chad LaRose (illness) missed the Feb. 2 game at Boston. He's considered day-to-day. D Joni Pitkanen (concussion) was injured Dec. 6 against Calgary and has missed every game since then. He underwent knee surgery Jan. 3. The new target date for his return is in early March. G Brian Boucher (lower body) was injured in practice Dec. 5. He has been placed on injured reserve. QUOTE TO NOTE "That's something we have to be a little better on as far as taking penalties." -- C Tim Brent, who has spent time on penalty-killing and power-play units.
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