The Carolina Hurricanes have survived the worst part of their season. They traveled half way round the world. They played against multiple playoff teams from last season. They endured the grind of having to play in different timezones. And even though their 5-6 record is less than .500, coach Paul Maurice likes where his team is at.
"I like their compete level, I like that we have been in every game," said the coach after this morning's skate. "I really like this team," repeated the coach.
Now the Hurricanes get to partake in the (better) part of their schedule as they face a few non-playoff teams, with three of the next four games at home. While it's still early, these games are pretty important because if the Canes don't fare well at home against this competition, it could be a very long season in store for them.
The club certainly does not want to squander their earlier success on the road, by continually losing at home. First things first though, they need to start out by scoring a goal on RBC ice. Carolina lost their two previous home contests by 3-0 scores to the Capitals and the Pens.
"There's no pressure," smiled Eric Staal when asked about tonight's match. "We just have not scored yet at home, that's all."
Staal will get some extra help tonight as talented rookie Jeff Skinner will be moved to his line. The rookie has been nothing short of sensational so far this season and currently leads the team with 8 points. Staal is right behind him with 7.
|2010 - Jeff Skinner||11||3||5||8||1||2||0||0||0||29|
|2010 - Eric Staal||11||3||4||7||-3||14||0||1||0||43|
The lines will start out as follows:
Staal, Skinner, LaRose
Sutter, Tlusty, Dwyer
Ruutu, Jokinen, Cole
Matsumoto, Kostopoulos, Samsonov
Joni Pitkanen has recovered enough from his injury on Monday night to play again tonight. Maurice has mixed and matched the defensive pairings, but look for these: Gleason-Corvo, Pitkanen-Babchuk, McBain-Harrison.
Cam Ward will be back in net.
Hockeymom's game day sheet is here:
After a hot start, the Islanders have cooled off in a big way and have lost four games in a row. Rick DiPietro will start in goal for them.
|2010 - Cam Ward||9||546||5||4||25||2.75||326||301||.923||0|
|2010 - Rick DiPietro||6||368||2||2||23||3.75||173||150||.867||0|
The Islanders are led in scoring by defenseman James Wisniewski who has 11 points. Former first round pick John Tavares joins four other Islanders who have 8 points each. (This includes former Hurricane Doug Weight, who is off to a good start.)
The New York lines, according to Islanders Point Blank:
Moulson, Tavares, Parenteau
Bailey, Schremp, Comeau
Weight, Nielsen, Grabner
Martin, Konopka/Gillies, Hunter
For even more Islanders info, check out Lighthouse Hockey, our SBN partner.
Will the Hurricanes pick up their first win at home, or will the Islanders put an end to their four game losing streak on RBC ice?
There is no local television for the game tonight. You can watch the game on Center Ice or on MSG network. As always, 99.9 The Fan will have Chuck Kaiton with the radio play-by-play. We will have our open game thread starting up at 6:30.
Cam Ward is 10-2-1, with a 2.28 GAA and one shutout in 14 career games against NYI.
The Canes are 13-3-3 against the New Yorkers in their last 19.
Rick DiPietro is 5-10-1 with a 3.37 GAA in 17 career appearances against Carolina.