Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Andrew Alberts is fired up for opening night. The 6'5 bruiser was signed during the offseason to beef up the blueline and he has performed as advertised so far in the preseason. Interestingly enough, his first official game for Carolina will be against the team he played for last year, the Philadelphia Flyers.
I asked Alberts how he felt about having to play against his former team his very first game.
"Oh, it's going to be fun," he said. "I'll have dinner with a couple of the guys, (ex-teammates), the night before, but on Friday it will be all business. Home openers are special. I have friends on the other side and I am looking forward to playing against them, but most importantly, this is my first game as a Hurricane and I am really looking forward to that. The fans will be jacked up and the players will be jacked up. It's just going to be a lot of fun."
I also asked him if he was starting to get comfortable playing alongside new pairing partner, Niclas Wallin.
"It takes time," Alberts said. "We have been working the penalty kill a lot together in practice and we are learning to read off each other. Nic is a great guy and I'm enjoying working with him."
The Carolina lineup seems set for Friday with the only question being whether or not Joni Pitkanen will play. While he has missed most of training camp and has not played a single preseason game, the defenseman has looked good at practice this week. I asked him on Wednesday how his knee felt and he replied, "It feels better everyday."
Coach Paul Maurice will make a final decision after the morning skate, but all signs seem to point to him being in the lineup.
Look for these lines if everything goes to plan:
- Staal, Whitney, Cole
- Cullen, Ruutu, Jokinen
- Brind'Amour, LaRose, Samsonov
- Yelle, Kostopoulos, Walker
- Gleason, Corvo
- Pitkanen, Ward
- Alberts, Wallin
Obviously, Cam Ward will be in net.
The Flyers line combos could be as follows, but they are subject to change: (still discussion about this at Broad Street Hockey)
- Richards, Giroux, Gagne
- Carter, Briere, Hartnell
- Pyorala, Van Riemsdyk, Betts
- Laperriere, Asham, Carcillo
- Timonen, Coburn
- Pronger, Carle
- Parent, Syvret
- Ray Emery in net
I'm taking a vacation day Friday so I can attend the morning skate and post more reports throughout the day. Check back for updates and more interviews.