The Carolina Hurricanes are back in Manitoba today where they will play the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Center at 7pm ET tonight. This is the Canes second visit to Winnipeg after playing the Jets in their new locale during the preseason back on September 28th.
The Hurricanes overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues last night, when Carolina was ahead 2-0 half-way through, feels very much like a mixed bag. Yes, they have 5 points out of 6 in the first 3 games of this road trip, but that game was there for them to win.
If they can secure 2 points in tonight's game against the team currently ranked at the bottom of the Easterm conference, points won on this trip would total a solid 7 out of 8, and Friday's collapse can be easily forgotten. A loss to the Jets, would effectively dampen any momentum gained from the 3-game win streak that was broken last night. The enthusiastic crowd in Winnipeg has been tremendous so far; taking them out of it with some early scoring might be a key to the Canes earning the win.
Chip Alexander is traveling with the team and was on TSN radio in Winnipeg this morning previewing the game. He indicated there would be no morning skate for the Canes today, as is typical for Coach Paul Maurice between back-to-back games. While there is nothing official on who will be in goal for Carolina, Chip is betting that Brian Boucher will get the start. It's possible we won't know till closer to game time when roster cards are turned in.
Some other notes on both teams, plus informed hypothetical line-ups, after the jump.
Hurricanes right wing Anthony Stewart and his brother Chris shared the spotlight yesterday, but Stewart has a notable part in tonight's game as well. He was with the Thrashers organization for the past 2 years, but after contributing his best season in Atlanta in 2010-11, was not tendered a qualifying offer in June, much to his surprise. He was signed by the Hurricanes July 2. Stewart made the trip to Winnipeg for the preseason game last month, but then flew back to Raleigh before the game to be with his fiance for the birth of their first child on Sept 29th.
It's possible that with the back-to-back scenario combined with the late game letdown in St Louis, that we'll see some line shuffling from Maurice. Could Derek Joslin finally get a start? One thing certain is that Zac Dalpe remains on the sidelines with a LBI.
For ease of reference, here are the lines and pairings we saw yesterday.
Canes let win slip by - Chip Alexander, NewsObserver.com "I wouldn't say we were that bad," Sutter said. "But it's tough to have a 2-0 lead and give it up and lose in that fashion."
Regarding Cam Ward and how many starts he'll get, here's one look at the topic: How many games should a No. 1 goalie play? - CBC Sports
From IllegalCurve.com : The Winnipeg Jets are back on home ice tonight for an inter-divisional game against the Carolina Hurricanes, but don’t expect them to roll out the red carpet (that will be reserved for teen pop sensation Justin Bieber and his girlfriend Selena Gomez who are both expected to be in the Winnipeg crowd Saturday night).
For the hockey side of the evening, here is how they tell us the Jets will line up
News from Winnipeg (is plentiful)
Injury related notes: Eric Fehr is still a couple weeks away. Defenseman Ron Hainsey is also out. Toby Enstrom, who some have compared to Carolina's 18-year-old prospect Ryan Murphy, has averaged 30 minutes in the last two games for the Jets.
While the morning papers suggested: Puck in face could force Ladd out tonight - Winnipeg Free Press (and if you haven't seen it, here's a look: Twitter / @aladd16: Feels like I took a puck in the face last night! yfrog.com/esp6zuj), Ken Wiebe of the Sun reports from the Jets skate this morning that Ladd is good to go.
A full round up of local stories is here: Winnipeg Jets Morning Papers | Illegal Curve Hockey
Some Jets stories not from Winnipeg
Identity crisis in Winnipeg - Carolyn Christians, Red Light District Hockey In every major statistical category, Winnipeg is among the bottom five in the league including: Goals/Game, Goals against/Game, 5-on-5 Goals/Game, both PP% and PK% and Face-off percentage. Even in Atlanta, these guys weren’t this bad.
Pure speculation but some context: Is there player discord in Winnipeg? | ProHockeyTalk Head coach Claude Noel and his team are under fire after a rough start to the year. Patrick Williams, a Winnipeg-based writer for NHL.com replied quickly via twitter: Um, no.
From the Media Notes
HURRICANES vs. JETS SERIES
• Carolina leads all-time 43-17-7-1 (68), including 19-11-4 (34) at home and 24-6-3-1 (34) on the road.
• The clubs meet six times during 2011-12: In Raleigh, Nov. 25, Jan. 23 and March 30 and in Winnipeg, Oct. 22, Jan. 23 and March 18.
• The Hurricanes posted a 5-0-1 mark against the Winnipeg franchise in 2010-11, including three overtime wins and a shootout victory.
• The Canes are 8-1-1 in the clubs' last 10 meetings, and have scored three or more goals in regulation/overtime in 10 of the last 13 games between the teams.
• Prior to last season, the teams had not played an overtime game since Jan. 2, 2008. Four of the six games last season were settled after regulation.
• The 2010-11 season was the first season series in which CAR took points in every game since the 2001-02 series, when the Canes went 3-0-2-0.
• The road team has won nine of the last 12 meetings between the clubs.
• CAR career point-per-game players vs. WPG: Jeff Skinner - 6 pts (2g, 4a) in 6 games; Eric Staal - 50 pts (20g, 30a) in 48 games.
• Cam Ward is 19-8-3, with a 2.93 GAA and one shutout in 31 career appearances against the Winnipeg franchise. Brian Boucher is 4-5-3 with a 2.39 GAA in 12 games.
• Ondrej Pavelec is 3-5-2, with a 3.88 GAA in 10 career appearances against Carolina. Chris Mason: 2-2-1, 1.39 GAA and one shutout in five games.
• Canes forward Anthony Stewart played for the Winnipeg franchise in 2010-11, notching 14 goals and earning 25 assists (39 points) in 80 games. Jets captain Andrew Ladd played three seasons for the Hurricanes, before being traded to Chicago for Tuomo Ruutu on Feb. 26, 2008. Canes forward Patrick Dwyer was a fourth-round draft pick of the Winnipeg franchise, though he never played for the team.
Planning your evening
We'll have the Canes Country Game Thread open at 6:30. Both lineups will be confirmed at that time. Everyone is welcome.
For television viewers, FSCarolinas has this one again. I thought this was a good thing to see as Atlanta hockey fans will be getting the Carolina team's coverage of their former team for the first time tonight: Thrashers gone, but not forgotten; FS South to air Jets-Canes. For those in Canada, the game is part of the Hockey Night in Canada programming, though I could see where the Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre vs the Canadiens might get more play.
Radio coverage will be covered as always by 99.9 the Fan, with Mike Maniscalco and Chuck Kaiton.