The Carolina Hurricanes begin a (three games in four days) road trip tonight with a contest against the Blackhawks in Chicago. The Canes have been playing the best hockey that they have played all season and have won four games in a row as well as eight of their last ten.
The Blackhawks are sitting pretty at fourth place in the Western Conference but have lost two in a row. They have a very respectable 17-6-6 record at home.
Carolina has had good fortune in the past against Chicago and they have a 7-0-1 record against them since 1999. Last March, Cam Ward shut the home team out with a 3-0 win, but it wasn't all good news because Matt Cullen was re-injured during that game.
The 'Hawks have many young stars and are led by:
|2008 - Patrick Kane||62||21||37||58||1||38||11||0||3||1||196||10.7|
|2008 - Jonathan Toews||64||28||29||57||11||43||11||0||6||1||161||17.4|
|2008 - Martin Havlat||64||21||36||57||17||24||5||0||4||0||197||10.7|
Havlat has been nursing an injury and may, or may not play tonight.
UPDATE: According to the Chicago Tribune, Havlat will not play tonight.
This will be an opportunity for Tuomo Ruutu and Andrew Ladd to face their former teammates. How will that go? Also, Anton Babchuk is an ex-Blackhawk and was originally drafted by them in the first round back in 2002. (He was acquired in the Danny Richmond trade). Of course, Sergei Samsonov was picked up from the waiver wire last year from Chicago.
In net, expect to see Cristobal Huet facing Cam Ward. This will be the 16th consecutive start for Ward, and he has started 32 of the past 33 games for Carolina. Will he ever wear out?
|2008 - Cristobal Huet||36||2045||18||13||3||4||83||2.44||951||868||.913||3|
|2008 - Cam Ward||55||3167||30||21||3||10||132||2.50||1500||1368||.912||5|
In the four game Carolina winning streak, Ward has a save percentage of .950 and GAA of 1.5.
The point leaders for Carolina are the usual subjects:
|2008 - Eric Staal||68||32||26||58||4||46||11||1||8||0||313||10.2|
|2008 - Ray Whitney||68||21||37||58||-8||26||6||0||1||2||185||11.4|
|2008 - Tuomo Ruutu||65||20||25||45||-1||63||5||0||3||0||150||13.3|
Ray Whitney recently scored his 300th career goal against Calgary. Rod Brind'Amour played his 600th career game for the Canes on Monday against the Rangers. Matt Cullen played in his 200th career game for the Canes, also against the Rangers.
Erik Cole has points in four consecutive games. The Hurricanes have yet to lose, (3-0), since acquiring the winger from Edmonton. Matt Cullen also has points in four straight, while Sergei Samsonov, Rod Brind'Amour, and Anton Babchuk have points in three straight. Babchuk has scored points in nine of the last ten games.
Jussi Jokinen has returned from Finland and will play tonight, probably centering the fourth line. Scott Walker is still out, and did not make the road trip. It's been reported that Dwight Helminen, Tim Conboy, and Mike Ryan will remain in Carolina for the stretch run. I would expect Helminen to be joining Brandon Sutter and Frank Kaberle on the bench tonight as Conboy and Ryan will most likely fill out the "energy" line with Jokinen.
The Hurricanes are currently in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, just a single point ahead of the New York Rangers.
The game starts at 8:30 Eastern and it will be televised locally by FS Carolinas.