It’s no surprise, then, that the clubs are among the worst in the league as they meet at RBC Center on Friday night.
A season after reaching the Eastern Conference finals, the Hurricanes (2-9-3) are off to the worst start in franchise history and have gone 0-7-3 in their last 10.
Carolina was shut out for the third time this season Wednesday night, 3-0 by Florida. The Hurricanes outshot the Panthers 32-25 but failed to convert on five power-play chances, extending their season-high drought to 13.
Staal, who had the league’s second-longest active such streak, suffered an upper-body injury in a 5-1 loss to San Jose on Sunday and is expected to miss at least two weeks.
The center has just three goals and two assists in 13 games for the Hurricanes, who have scored a league-worst 1.93 goals per contest.
“I’ve seen enough to where I’m as disappointed as I’ve ever been in a team,” general manager Jim Rutherford told the team’s official Web site. “I still know that there’s enough here to make that turn, but when you watch what we’ve all watched here in the last week, it makes you wonder if it’s going to turn.”
The Maple Leafs brought in Brian Burke as their GM nearly a year ago to help turn around a franchise that has missed the playoffs in four consecutive seasons.
Toronto (1-7-5) does not look poised to end that drought as it has struggled again defensively. The Maple Leafs allowed a league-worst 3.49 goals per game in 2008-09 and are at the bottom of the league again this season, giving up 3.92 a contest.
Toronto, however, has earned at least a point in five straight games since its only win Oct. 26. The Maple Leafs lost their fourth straight Tuesday night - all beyond regulation - 2-1 in overtime to Tampa Bay.
“We have to persevere, we can’t change what we’re doing because we’re right there knocking on the door,” coach Ron Wilson said. “We’ve just got to find a way to knock the door completely down.”
Carolina is second worst in the NHL with 3.64 goals allowed per game, while Toronto is among the league’s lowest-scoring teams at 2.38 goals per contest.
The Hurricanes won six of the last eight meetings with the Leafs, though Toronto snapped Carolina’s three-game home win streak in the series with a 6-4 victory Jan. 15.