RALEIGH, NC - FEBRUARY 28: Bryan Allen #5 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal against the Nashville Predators during the third period at the RBC Center on February 28, 2012 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Hurricanes won 4-3. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
The Carolina Hurricanes are feeling pretty good about themselves because of a decent February, (6-1-4) and hope to continue that stretch into March as they take on the East's first place New York Rangers tonight at the RBC.
It's well known the the Canes go as their captain does and Eric Staal had one of the best months, regarding stats, in his career last month. Staal has points in nine straight games, (7G 9A) and has improved his previous NHL worst plus/minus stat by double digits.
The forward lines were mixed at practice this morning, so expect the unexpected tonight. The Derek Joslin experiment at forward continues, which leads to question how his development as a young defenseman is going.
Cam Ward will start again in net but will not face the only goalie in the NHL with a higher cap hit than he has this season, Henrik Lundqvist. The Canes will face another backup, Martin Biron tonight.
|2011 - Cam Ward||52||3023||22||18||142||2.82||1591||1449||.911||3|
|2011 - Martin Biron||16||923||10||3||34||2.21||383||349||.911||2|
The Rangers have a healthy nine point lead in the Eastern Conference race and they are sporting a 7-2-1 record in their last 10 games. They are led in scoring by Marian Gaborik, Ryan Callahan, and Brad Richards, but Callahan will sit this one out.
For more about the New Yorker's, check out Blueshirt Banter.
The Hurricanes are 11-2-3 in their last 16 games on home ice. The team's once last place powerplay has picked up steam and is now 17th best in the league at 16.8%. The team is 9-26 in their last nine homes games, good for 34.6%.
The Rangers have won both meetings between the teams so far this season, with one more to play on March 13.
There will be no local television broadcast for the game tonight. Check out Center Ice or listen to Chuck Kaiton on 99.9 The Fan. I will be reporting from the rafters and the open thread will be ready to go at 6:30.