Draw The Line: Hurricanes at Rangers, Game Day Preview

NEW YORK NY - JANUARY 05: Zach Boychuk #11 of the Carolina Hurricanes moves the puck around Marc Staal #18 of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on January 5 2011 in New York City. Boychuk will get a chance on a top line tonight. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Carolina Hurricanes, (5-7-3) bring their three game losing streak to Madison Square Garden and will do battle with the New York Rangers, (8-3-3) tonight starting at 7 p.m.  The Canes will once again be sporting new lines, as the coaching staff continues to search for ways to get captain Eric Staal -- who has yet to score an even strength goal all season -- on track. 

For the first time this season, Zach Boychuk and Alexei Ponikarovsky will be Staal's wingers, at least to start off this affair.  Many have been hoping for young Boychuk to get more playing time, so this could be his chance to shine.  He played well against New York last year.

This is the first game of a back-to-back situation for the team as they will be back home in Raleigh to face the Penguins on Saturday night.  They are currently 1-1-1 in the first game of back-to-backs and 0-2-1 in the second.

According to the team's depth chart page , it looks like Zac Dalpe will be sitting this game out.   Here are the lines as given:

Skinner, Jokinen, Ruutu

Poni, Staal, Boychuk

Dwyer, Sutter, LaRose

Tlusty, Brent, Stewart

Allen, Gleason

McBain, Pitkanen

Harrison, Kaberle

 

Cam Ward will be starting in net.

On the other side of the rink, the Rangers have been playing good hockey for coach John Tortorella and currently are riding a five game winning streak.   They are led by a red hot Marian Gaborik and of course free agent acquisition Brad Richards is holding his own.


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2011 - Marian Gaborik 14 9 6 15 8 8 1 0 1 62


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2011 - Brad Richards 14 4 6 10 -2 2 1 0 1 30



Look for Henrik Lundqvist to face Ward.

 


GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2011 - Henrik Lundqvist 11 669 5 3 25 2.24 353 328 .929 1


GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2011 - Cam Ward 12 691 5 5 33 2.87 376 343 .912 1

 

For more information about the Rangers, check out our partners at the Blue Shirt Banter.

 

There is plenty of conjecture out there about why Staal might be having such a rough start.  This will be his first game against the Rangers since his big hit on Marc, which ended up causing a concussion that has sidelined his brother so far this year.   Is that injury related to Staal's ineffectiveness? Some in the press seem to think so.

Mike Maniscalco has his own recent take about Staal on WRAL Sports Fan.

For those of you who might be wondering about Tim Brent and his lower than expected faceoff percentage, Peter Koutroumpis has some valuable insight in this story posted at the Raleigh Gazette.

For Tim Brent, a recent hand injury inhibited his ability to effectively win faceoffs.

"I was a little banged up basically up until last game (vs. Tampa); I had a bad hand and it was tough on taking draws," Brent said. "I lost a lot of strength, but I’m feeling a lot better now in the circle."

Of course, Chip Alexander will have even more insight over at Canes Now, including another update on Staal. 

 

The Canes went 2-0-2 against the Rangers last year and have earned points in six of their last eight meetings, (4-2-2) against them.   Jeff Skinner has five points in four career games against the blueshirts while Gaborik has 14 points in 14 career games against the Canes.

 

The game will be televised by FS Carolinas, starting with a preview show hosted by Bob Harwood beginning at 6:30.  Chuck Kaiton will be broadcasting on 99.9 The Fan and we will have our open thread ready to go at 6:30.

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