Lightning at Hurricanes - Gameday Preview

The Tampa Bay Lightning are in town and will be squaring off against the Hurricanes with a brand new coach. On Friday, Barry Melrose was relieved of his duties just 16 games into the season and assistant coach, Rich Tocchet was put in charge.

(Melrose has had some interesting quotes since his dismissal, one of which indicates that players today are harder to motivate, (lazier?) than 10 years ago. "The Mullet" has never been at a loss for words and doesn't disappoint in his "exit interviews".)

Back to the game-

The Lightning are 5-7-4 overall and have an away record of 3-4-1. The Hurricanes are 8-7-2 and have a home record 0f 3-4.

Both teams are riding three game losing streaks, so something has to give.

After losing a pressure-packed game in Atlanta on Friday night, the Canes had a loose practice yesterday and will be trying to have fun again. Although many fans will claim that it's certainly been anything but fun watching them play the past couple of home games.

Patrick Eaves practiced with the team yesterday and is expected to join the lineup today. That means either Patrick Dwyer or Wade Brookbank will need to find a place in the pressbox for the game. Who would you play? An enforcer who averages about a minute of ice time per game, or a utility player who is good on the penalty kill?

Cam Ward will probably be in net again for the Canes and Mike Smith will probably assume the position for the Lightning. Smith has an excellent save percentage of .929 compared to Ward's .908.

Game time is at 3PM and the contest will not be broadcast locally. (Who came up with these 3PM start times?)

Today, I will be providing "Live Updates" between periods here on the blog, so check it out if you happen to be online. If you have any game related questions, leave them in the comment section and I will try to answer them.

Will the Hurricanes start their four game homestand with a victory, or will the Lightning win their first attempt for their new bench boss?

We will find out at the rink.

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Ryan Bayda future Selke winner?

James Mirtle recently posted an article on his blog showing an analysis of the top defensive forwards in the NHL and Ryan Bayda is second on the list. Bayda has the best plus/minus stat on the Hurricanes and also does a decent job of killing penalties. Good work Bayda!

Mirtle also has a similar report for defensemen. Nic Wallin is rated 18th with Tim Gleason showing up 30th on that analysis.

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The Capitals tied the New Jersey Devils with just one second left in regulation last night to pick up another point which could have easily gone the other way. That makes two recent games that the Caps have scored goals in the final seconds of a game. (Semin scored the game-winner against the Canes with just 3 clicks on the clock).

Everything is going Washington's way at the moment, but it is a long season and these things usually even out over the course of time. We will see.

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