Tonight marks the first of three meetings between the Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins. The Hurricanes swept the series against the Bruins last season with four regulation wins. The Bruins come into tonight's game with points in all four games played, their only loss in overtime against the Rangers in New York. Their last game was a 4-2 win against the New York Islanders in Boston on Friday night. The Hurricanes dropped their first two games before sweeping the Buffalo Sabres in back-to-back games on Thursday in Raleigh and on Friday in Buffalo to climb to a .500 record.
Carolina Hurricanes (2-2-0) vs Boston Bruins (3-0-1)
Monday, January 28, 2012 - 7:00 pm EST
PNC Arena - Raleigh, NC
TV - NHL Network, Fox Sports Carolinas HD Radio - 99.9 The Fan
Tailgate forecast: High 53 / Low 45
The Hurricanes followed up a high scoring affair on Thursday with a tightly-contested win on Friday against the Buffalo Sabres to complete the home-and-home sweep. After scoring just two goals in the first two losses, they have posted nine goals in the two wins.
Jordan Staal is riding a three-game assist streak, and Jeff Skinner's lethal backhands have given him a three-game goal scoring streak (and four goals total).
Alexander Semin is two goals shy of 200 career NHL goals. Sasha scored his first goal in the sightless eye on Friday night in typical fashion, a top shelf snipe from the middle of the zone that had color commentator Tripp Tracy reaching for his Russian Rosetta Stone (watch here).
Forward Jeremy Welsh was reassigned to the Charlotte Checkers on Saturday (news link).
Justin Faulk left the game in the second period on Friday after he collided with Steve Ott and did not return. Faulk is listed as day-to-day but skated in a full practice with the team on Sunday and fared well according to media reports. He will be evaluated today for a possible return to the line-up tonight. Regardless, the nature of any injury appears to be short-term.
Cam Ward is expected to get the start in net. Ward is 12-10-2 with a 2.54 GAA and three shutouts in his previous appearances against Boston.
Following is the depth chart as the team practiced on Sunday.
Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Alexander Semin
Jeff Skinner - Jordan Staal - Zac Dalpe
Drayson Bowman - Jussi Jokinen - Chad LaRose
Patrick Dwyer - Tim Brent - Kevin Westgarth/Zach Boychuk
Tim Gleason - Justin Faulk
Joni Pitkanen - Jamie McBain
Jay Harrison - Joe Corvo
Out of line-up: Tuomo Ruutu (injured non-roster, hip)
The Bruins sit near the top of the Eastern Conference standings with 7 points and no regulation losses in the early stages of the season. The Bruins are also perfect so far on the penalty kill, allowing no goals while short-handed.
While much of the Bruins quick start can be attributed to the outstanding performance of goaltender Tuukka Rask, the Bruins' fourth forward line (known as the 'merlot line' for the color of their practice jerseys) has drawn accolades as well. Center Gregory Campbell and wingers Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille have six points so far this season, including two goals in the win against the Islanders on Friday.
Defenseman Adam McQuaid did not travel to Raleigh with the team and is out of the lineup due to personal reasons. Aaron Johnson is expected to take his slot. Former Hurricane Dennis Seidenberg returned to the lineup Saturday night after missing two games with a lower body injury.
Will Cam Ward not be wasting his time with Tuukka Rask tonight? Rask has been spectacular in net so far for the Bruins (1.96 GAA, .925 save percentage), but it has been speculated that Claude Julien may rest him tonight in favor of a start tomorrow night in Boston against the New Jersey Devils. If that is the case, expect to see backup netminder Anton Khudobin, with only seven NHL games to his resume (all but one with the Minnesota Wild) but with an impressive 6-1 record in those games (1.32 GAA and .961 save percentage). Khudobin has never faced the Hurricanes; Rask is 2-2-0 in five career games with a 2.68 GAA.
Projected Bruins lines:
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Chris Bourque - Chris Kelly - Rich Peverley
Shawn Thornton - Gregory Campbell - Daniel Paille
Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dougie Hamilton - Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference - Aaron Johnson
Out of line-up: Adam McQuaid (personal)
Other News of Note
Yesterday's practice was part of a special Caniac Cookout event for season ticket holders. As part of the festivities, several Hurricanes players took part in a Q&A session with TV play-by-play announcer John Forslund after practice. Canes Country regular Raccoon Fink (Ben) was at the event and provided a live recap here on his RFHockey twitter feed.
Also from yesterday's practice:
News and Observer: Canes Now - Faulk at practice, status for Bruins uncertain
Hurricanes.com: Tracking the Storm - Hurricanes Notebook: Finding Their Game
Canes Corner reconvenes this week at Backyard Bistro. Chad LaRose will be the first guest and will join Mike Maniscalco at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, January 29th. Visit Backyard Bistro or listen on 99.9 The Fan.
SB Nation Lightning blog Raw Charge continues their weekly Southeast Division recap: Southeast Division Weekend Update: Caps, Cats floundering
The Hurricanes Kids 'n Community Foundation kicked off two big fundraisers last week when they announced dates for their Skate with the Canes and Casino Night events. Tickets are now available, and more information can be found on the Kids 'n Community page.
Brian will have more analysis on our opponent later in the day, and we'll start the game thread at 6:30 pm. See you at the rink.