The Hurricanes wrap up a three game West Coast road trip tonight when they take on Wayne Gretzky's, Phoenix Coyotes. Both teams are on the outside, looking in at the playoff picture and need these two points desperately. Carolina remains one point behind the Florida Panthers, who are in the coveted eighth spot in the East.
The bad news for Caniacs is that Phoenix is in the midst of a
four five game losing streak. The Hurricanes have been the best cure going for slumping teams this year, as they most recently broke up the Canuck's eight game tail spin.
The Canes are coming off an emotional win over the San Jose Sharks as they earned a rare victory in a shootout. The team has won five of their last seven contests.
Rod Brind'Amour will miss this game as will Dennis Seidenberg and Scott Walker, but Niclas Wallin is a possibility. It will be interesting to see who gets scratched if Wallin plays, Frank Kaberle or Bryan Rodney? Kaberle played about five minutes in the game against the Sharks while Rodney played double that time. The Albany blueliner has also been the player of choice on the powerplay.
Eric Staal, who left the Sharks game early with a hamstring pull, is expected to play tonight. He had a hat-trick in his last showing against the Coyotes as the Hurricanes won 5-2 on November 21st, 2008 at the RBC.
Carolina has not had good luck in the desert though, having lost their last two games there. They have a record of 1-3-1 in their last five in Phoenix and have not won there since February 2001, when Jeff O'Neill ripped in the game winner in overtime.
Matt Cullen has a four game point streak going and Ray Whitney has points in the last three games.
Cam Ward will be back in net after taking a rest back in San Jose.
The newly acquired Jussi Jokinen is a possibility for the game. Jim Rutherford was quoted saying that his arrival will be "close". If Jokinen does play, my guess is that Michael Ryan will be scratched. Jakub Petruzalek had a great debut and should be rewarded with more time tonight.
The game has a 9PM start time and will be broadcast by FS Carolinas. We will also have another "Live Game Thread" going here at Canes Country. Drop in for plenty of free, game-time analysis, or feel free to add your own. You never know who will drop by, we have had the good fortune to have a celebrity or two join us in past threads. For instance, "Wuffie", from Carolina on Ice and Barry Melrose Rocks joined in during previous games. Will he return for an encore?
For more in-depth info about the Coyotes, check out Five for Howling.