Suddenly the Carolina Hurricanes' locked roster of twenty players is developing some flexibility. Minor injuries have opened the door, if just a crack and for just a moment, to those minor league prospects in Charlotte who are tearing up the AHL's Eastern Conference. The first in line to make the leap back to the NHL in a more permanent role may be Zach Boychuk, who the Ottawa TV announcers described as a "whirling dervish" this week. While the headlines yesterday were about GM Jim Rutherford's rare second intermission visit to the Canes' room in Toronto, Rutherford's thoughts on Boychuk's performance when he was moved up to play alongside Brandon Sutter are definitely news to keep tabs on.
"If he continues to play like that, he'll only be visiting Charlotte and not playing in Charlotte," Rutherford said. "It's still too early to tell, but he may have the opportunity to stay. We'll make the roster adjustments after [Jokinen and Tlusty] get back."
More on the synergy here: The Graduation of a Line - Paul Branecky, TTS Blog For three guys who had never played an NHL game on the same line until this week, Zach Boychuk, Patrick Dwyer and Brandon Sutter know each other well
And the door's still open: Canes Now: Jokinen, Pitkanen out of Devils game
Maurice said he was not sure if Matsumoto and Rodney would be the two players to be recalled for the Devils game. Both played Thursday night in the Checkers' game in Norfolk against the Admirals, and Maurice said there were some "bumps and bruises" in that game that could affect the callups.
As Maurice points out, the Checkers were in Norfolk last night, where they won their second OT game over the Admirals this week. As Mike Sundheim tweeted last night, both Jon Matsumoto and Bryan Rodney may be a bit fatigued.
Matsumoto's 48 hrs: AHL game in Norfolk | 3-leg trip to OTT | NHL game in OTT | To RDU | Drive to Norfolk | GTG in OT AHL W
We expect to get the decision soon and will update on the who's and why's as soon as it's announced.
If you're looking forward to the Winter Classic from Pittsburgh at 1 o'clock tomorrow, you're out of luck.Capitals Insider - Source: NHL to move Winter Classic to Saturday evening because of rain The NHL has announced that the Winter Classic has been moved to 8 p.m. on Saturday based the heavy rain expected to fall through the afternoon in Pittsburgh.
After the jump, more local links, keeping up with World Juniors, alumni, and the usual scan of the hockey blogosphere, including some pretty good 2010 retrospectives.
More local links
Carolina Hurricanes Report Podcast 12/30/2010 - Once more, Kyle Hanlin and Paul Branecky talk all things Canes, including a thorough discussion of the team's identity, what might become of Boychuk this season, and why Tim Gleason rocks.
Counting on Cornerstones Staal, Ward keeping Canes in playoff hunt - HurricanesBeat.com Both players have been incredibly consistent in the face of a somewhat inconsistent team that by most accounts shouldn’t be two games over .500 because of a crazy schedule that has been very road heavy, and a series of mini scoring slumps.
From the print edition this morning: Rutherford sets the Canes straight - NewsObserver.com Enough was enough. The Carolina Hurricanes had lost three straight. On Tuesday night in Toronto, they led 3-2 after the first period, but the Leafs dominated the second to force a 3-3 tie. A fourth loss seemed possible. Then the GM visited the locker room.
Rutherford Delivers his Message - TTS Blog With his team clearly needing some jump, Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford literally and figuratively stepped outside the box.
You can follow the action from Buffalo on the NHL Network now, as Canada and Sweden are in a battle for the top seed (and a bye to the semi's). Team USA hopes to have less challenge from the Swiss when the puck drops at 8pm. Some previews and explanations of what happens now up next.
Battles for First Highlight New Year's Eve at U20 WJHCs - Puck Worlds It's the final day of preliminary round action at the IIHF U20 World Junior Hockey Championship in Buffalo and Niagara. The Czechs and Russians battle for the final playoff spot in Group B, while Canada, Sweden, Finland, USA and Switzerland all have eyes for a semifinal berth.
WJC U20 Championship FORMAT or what happens once the round robin portion completes.
Dumoulin Post Game - HockeybuzzTV has this post game interview with Hurricanes' prospect and Boston College standout Brian Dumoulin after Team USA's 4-0 win over Team Germany last night. Sidenote: Dumoulin is tied with 2 teammates with the top plus/minus on the American roster.
Scouting the Competition
Aggregated NHL Power Rankings: Week 12 - From The Rink where it is now unanimous that the New Jersey Devils are the worst team in the League. How has it come to that?
The Devils were embarrassed by the NY Rangers Wednesday and host the Atlanta Thrashers at 5pm today. Then they'll be heading to RDU for the second half of a back-to-back with the Canes. What are they thinking about these days? Henrik Tallinder: All Devils are playing for now is personal pride | NJ.com The Devils will bring a season-high six-game losing streak into their match with the Atlanta Thrashers Friday night.
We should expect Martin Brodeur in goal for the Devils here tomorrow. Fire & Ice: Lemaire: Goaltending hasn’t been "up to par" Lemaire admitted that the Devils’ goaltending hasn’t been good enough this season, but he’s hoping Martin Brodeur’s performance Wednesday was the start of a turnaroud. Johan Hedberg will getting his first start since Dec. 6 today.
More evidence that the Southeast doesn't suck any more. What is the best division in the NHL? - From The Rink Six divisions, each with five teams each. Which is the best division in the NHL? A comprehensive statistical breakdown to sort best to worst.
Interesting take on the Boudreau's solution to getting the Washington Capitals past the first round of the post season: On Frozen Blog › We’re Going Ugly (Cause We Have to)
Once the Caps secured a 2-0 lead last night, guess how many skaters they consistently had clogging the neutral zone? Five. That’s called a trap. How spectacularly ironic: in these teams’ first meeting since last April’s upset, the Habs last night were frustrated to death by a trapping Capitals club.
Fresh off the ice where he notched a nifty powerplay tally for the Penguins Alumni at Heinz Field, the Canes former captain and current Associate Head Coach had this to say: Ron Francis lives out a dream - 2011 NHL Winter Classic Blog "Any time you get together with the guys and have a lot of fun, rehash old stories it's enjoyable. I thoroughly enjoyed this."
And having suffered the inefficiencies of the Canes 27th-ranked power play unit in the league, I thought watching the Canes PP Guru/coach Francis get that power play goal (at the 1:40 mark) was just rich. :Sighs: Do we just need a Lemieux? Have to add that it was Greg Wyshynski's observation that "Ron Francis could be the Devils' No. 1 center right now."
This is fun: Veteran 4th liner and former defenseman Scott Walker is going for run and gun. The newest coach in the OHL is making waves: GuelphMercury.com - New Guelph Storm coach turning up the tempo "I feel like I want our guys to be extremely offensive: a high-tempo, high-pressure team," Walker said after Tuesday morning’s workout .
He's off to a great start with his struggling Storm defeating the top-ranked Mississauga Saints handily 5-2 last night. (With the Canes' prospect Justin Shugg getting 2 assists for the Saints in the losing effort.)
And here's the conversation with Walker from Canes Now: Walker excited about 'new chapter'
The excitement in Scott Walker's voice was palpable. Tonight, he will be behind the bench for the first time as a head coach, leading the Guelph Storm against the London Knights in an OHL game. "I'm pretty excited about this new chapter," Walker said today. "Who knows what it will bring. The race is one to see if I'll lose all my hair first or if it goes totally gray.
Looking back at 2010
There is no shortage of lists that capture what happened in hockey the last 365 days, but here are a few that go outside the normal scope.
- A Year In Review: The Hockey Blogosphere In 2010 | Houses of the Hockey | TheScore.com
- The Best and Worst of Hockey Media in 2010 | Puck The Media
- Down Goes Brown: 2010: An NHL year in review which includes such ripe moments as: June 22 - In the biggest trade of draft weekend, the Bruins send Dennis Wideman and two draft picks to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Nathan Horton and the right to not have any of their players get suspended anymore.
Happy New Year to all! See you at the rink in 2011.