The Carolina Hurricanes, (30-34-8) took their morning skate in Tampa Bay in preparation for tonight's game against the Lightning, (28-32-12) with an extra goalie. For the first time in over a month, Cam Ward was back on the ice with his teammates for full practice.
The goalie has been working out on his own and had been skating with coach Tom Barrasso in recent days, but he reportedly took a few pucks today and is getting closer to returning to action.
Remember back when the Canes were the only team in the NHL without a road win? The club now has a 5-1-1 record in their last seven road games. Since January 21, the team is 16-7-1 overall and has outscored their opponents 76-59.
Jamie McBain has the longest current point streak for Carolina with five points in four games.
Eric Staal is next with points in three straight. The captain now has 53 points in 46 games since returning from a 10 day break because of an injury.
The lineup tonight should be the same as it was against Buffalo, although there is no word yet who the starting goaltender will be. If we find out, we will leave an update.
The Hurricanes are led in scoring by Staal and Jussi Jokinen. Of course Jokinen was unceremoniously put on waivers last season by the Lightning and he always seems to play well against them.
|2009 - Eric Staal||60||23||35||58||-1||58||12||0||2||0||234||9.8|
|2009 - Jussi Jokinen||71||27||29||56||1||34||10||0||5||0||142||19.0|
Steven Stamkos leads Tampa Bay. For more info about the Bolts, check out Raw Charge.
|2009 - Steven Stamkos||72||43||40||83||0||34||19||1||3||0||247||17.4|
While some might say that at this point, there is nothing to play for between these teams, the players would argue. Most of these athletes are playing for a job next year.
For instance, Carolina has nine veteran forwards already under contract next season and several talented young prospects who will be battling for spots themselves.
Unlike last season where the slots were already completely filled and no one was going anywhere, next year's training camp will be a battle royale, with almost every position up for grabs. If a rookie is out-performing a veteran, look for the vet to be traded away. Some of the young forwards have already made a case for themselves, others will be given every opportunity at camp.
There are a lot of things that can happen before next year, (and we will be discussing it all here) but the point is, these games do mean something to most of the players, even if the club does not make the playoffs.
There have been a couple of new Canes related articles out since HM's last C&C.
FanHouse speaks with Jamie McBain
The game starts at 7:30 and will be telecast by FS Carolinas. We will have the open game thread alive and kicking at 7. See you then!