Hurricanes at Avalanche: Game Day Preview

Brandon Sutter scores the OT game-winner in a 2-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche at the RBC Center on December 3, 2010. (author's photo)

The Carolina Hurricanes couldn't high-tail it out of California fast enough after a questionable non-call led to a deflating 3-2 overtime defeat by the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night. From the sun to the snow, they arrived in Denver in the wee hours of Thursday morning and now prepare to face the Colorado Avalanche tonight at 9:00 pm (ET) at the Pepsi Center. This is the only meeting between the two teams this season. The Hurricanes won the solo meeting last season, a 2-1 win in overtime on December 3, 2010 at the RBC Center.

Game notes for tonight follow, along with a few noteworthy news nuggets.

For the Avalanche

The Avalanche (27-25-3, 57 points) are currently in 12th place in the Western Conference, although only separated from the 8th place Dallas Stars by one point. They had lost five straight games (including two at home) before a 5-2 win over the Blackhawks on Tuesday night. Gabriel Landeskog continued his solid rookie season performance by scoring the game winner, and David Jones chipped in two goals. Originally brought in this season to be the backup, veteran goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere (13-9-2, 2.09 GAA, .923 SV%) has been getting a majority of the recent starts and is among NHL leaders in goals-against average and save percentage.

Projected lines for the Avs:

Matt Duchene is on injured reserve (lower body).

For Avalanche news and analysis, tune in to SBNation affiliate site Mile High Hockey.

For the Hurricanes

The Hurricanes (20-25-10, 50 points) are firmly entrenched at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, 8th spot a distant 10 points away. Captain Eric Staal had another solid performance against the Ducks with a hard-working goal, 3 shots, and a 52% effort in the faceoff circle. Staal now has 19 points in 17 games. Cam Ward continues to say no, allowing just 11 goals in the last eight starts including two shutouts, and is ranked second in the NHL in saves (1,346). While Tuomo Ruutu's goal against the Ducks was SportsCenter-worthy, it was all set-up by a beautiful shot to the net by Jiri Tlusty, who now has a three-game point streak.

The Canes practiced Thursday at the Pepsi Center, but there were only a few details reported. Brandon Sutter, who appeared to take a hit to his hand/wrist while blocking a shot Wednesday night, practiced and plans to be in the lineup. Jaro Spacek practiced without the "birdcage" mask.

Projected lines for the Canes:

Cam Ward (20-18-9, 2.77 GAA, .913 SV%) will be in net, backed up by Justin Peters.

Derek Joslin is expected to be a healthy extra, and Joni Pitkanen (knee/concussion) and Brian Boucher (lower body) are on injured reserve.

If there is any news regarding either team after today's morning skates, i'll publish an edited update.

Fox Sports Carolinas has the HD TV broadcast with John Forslund, Tripp Tracy, and Bob Harwood. Flagship station WCMC 99.9 The Fan will carry the radio broadcast with Chuck Kaiton. We'll have the open game thread at 8:30.

News and Ruumors

The media was abuzz yesterday when Mike Maniscalco broke the following news on twitter:

@mikemaniscalco Thu 09 Feb 14:48 Just spoke with Jim Rutherford, he told me that signing Tuomo Ruutu is a priority for the Canes.

According to several sources, Rutherford had a "good meeting" with Ruutu to discuss his future with the team, and is now planning to negotiate with him over the next week. Here's the latest:

WRALSportsFan.com Rutherford: Signing Ruutu is a priority

Newsobserver.com Canes Now - Rutherford: Decision on Ruutu next week

Newsobserver.com Rutherford working on Ruutu extension

Puck Daddy: Three theories on why Hurricanes might pull Tuomo Ruutu off tracking block

And then, from a less conventional source, this opinion from a blogger for the San Jose Sharks (which I found to be an interesting perspective):

Shark Circle: Are the Carolina Hurricanes Playing Trade Deadline Games?

C'Mon, Ref!

In Chip Alexander's blog, he also reports that Rutherford spoke with league officials about the overtime no-call that led to the eventual game-winner for the Ducks. From Canes Now:

"I don't want to get into the details but I feel fine with how the league is handling the situation," Rutherford said. "I'm very satisfied with the way the league responded. It's unfortunate the game was decided the way it was."

Kerry Fraser weighed in with his opinion of the non-call on his TSN C'Mon, Ref! Blog:

tsn.ca Fraser: The non-call on Corey Perry in overtime

All in the Family

Stick tap to Carolyn for finding this one... Hurricanes 2011 third round draft pick Keegan Lowe (Edmonton Oil Kings) and Drayson Bowman's younger brother Collin Bowman (Calgary Hitmen) dropping the gloves during a game Wednesday night:

Hockey Fights - Lowe vs. Bowman - February 8, 2012

Junior Canes Update

Finally, don't forget that the Carolina Junior Hurricanes are in Quebec this week participating in the Quebec International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament. Updates can be found by following @JrCanesQuebec on twitter. The first exhibition game was played today versus Beauborg, and was a 3-2 loss. Nice to see a familiar name on the scoresheet.

@JrCanesQuebec Thu 09 Feb 15:54 Down 3-1 after 2. Canes goal by Brind'Amour

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