Carolina Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice will finally start Michael Leighton in net after a 28 game starting streak for Cam Ward. The backup goalie has not started a game since February 5th when he and the Canes defeated the Sharks in San Jose. Leighton should not be too rusty though after spelling Ward for about 30 minutes against the Sabres on Thursday night. He finished the game making 11 saves on 12 shots, allowing just one goal to Derek Roy on a penalty shot.
Marty Brodeur will be starting in goal for the Devils. New Jersey coach Brent Sutter said that he does not want to rest any of the starters, but he could change his mind come Saturday morning. More news about that on the Fire & Ice blog.
Matt Cullen will reportedly be on the sidelines again for this matchup. Maurice said that he was medically cleared to play in the press conference on Thursday night, but apparently he's not well enough to give it a go on Saturday.
Eric Staal has a five game point streak. Ray Whitney has points in four straight and Anton Babchuk has points in three. The defenseman has 20 points in his last 23 games.
The Hurricanes can still place anywhere between fourth to sixth place in the standings, meaning that either Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, or New Jersey could be their opponents in the first round. If they can beat the Devils, it certainly puts them in the driver's seat. They would automatically be ahead of the Pens and the Flyers would need to earn three points in their last two games to get ahead of them.
If they lose this game, there are several different scenarios which could fall into place. As far as the standings go, this game is meaningless to New Jersey. They have third place wrapped up, win or lose. For more detailed information from the other side, check out In Lou We Trust.
The Canes have won all three contests against the Devils so far this season, so you can be sure that Sutter and his team will be looking to prevent the sweep. Will the Hurricanes have any intensity, or will they be playing the same way they did against the Sabres, as if they were looking ahead for the playoffs?
The game will be broadcast by FS Carolinas starting at 1PM.
(attached is an MP3 of a Paul Maurice interview on Friday, April 10th)