Hurricanes Record: 7-7-4 (18 pts.)
Ducks Record: 15-5-1 (31 pts.)
The Anaheim Ducks arrived in Raleigh late last night singing "cry me a river" after losing two in a row in Florida this week. Meanwhile the Carolina Hurricanes are saying "I'm lovin' it" after an impressive 3-0-1 home stand.
For once the Canes are catching a team coming off a back-to-back which is not a bad thing. But what goes around... comes around and after tonight's game the Canes will put this game in the mirrors, don a suit and tie, and head out to St. Louis to face the Blues, whose 7-3 defeat of the Colorado Avalanche last night was a strong dose of poison.
It would be easy to get tunnel vision about Anaheim's two straight losses, but the 20/20 experience is that they still have the best record in the NHL, and to treat this game like a cabaret could leave the home team fans in tears like a lonely senorita. Anaheim's special teams aren't all that special, but given the Canes' record in odd-man situations, they would be justified if they didn't put their.... selves in a box.
Canes notes from yesterday's practice:
- The Hurricanes finally seem to be returning to good health. Tim Gleason, Cam Ward (IR), Jeff Skinner (IR, no-contact), and Kevin Westgarth (no-contact) all skated in yesterday's practice, and all could be ready to return to the lineup as soon as tonight.
- Radek Dvorak, who left Tuesday's game early with a lower body injury, did not practice with the team yesterday and is day-to-day, with the coaching staff not ruling out a return this weekend.
- Anton Khudobin skated in full gear today for the first time since suffering what is now reported as an ankle injury back on October 13. He is listed as 1-2 weeks away from a return.
- Eric Staal did not practice yesterday, but it was reported as a maintenance day and he'll play tonight (by the way, Jeff Skinner took his place in practice alongside Alexander Semin and Jiri Tlusty).
- Goaltender Mike Murphy, who has been backing up current starter Justin Peters, did not practice with the team yesterday and will likely head back to Charlotte as Ward is officially activated from IR. Murphy's return will be timely for the Checkers, who have given up 13 goals in their last two games.
- If Ward is activated for tonight, he will back up Peters, who has been on fire during this home stretch only allowing 4 goals on 114 shots in four games (.965 SV%). His four consecutive games without a regulation loss is a career high.
- Given the moving parts in the line-up, we'll report changes after this morning's skate. Check Hurricanes.com for live Storm Surge video coverage during practice.
- Thursday practice report links: [CH.com] [N&O]
- Kirk Muller: [audio]
- Hurricanes Report Podcast: [Episode 6]
- Depth Chart
- Injury Report
Anaheim Ducks Notes:
- Despite the two straight losses, the Ducks continue to lead the NHL with 15 wins and 31 points. They rank in the top five in goals scored and five-on-five play, but are in the bottom five on both power play and penalty kill rankings.
- Injury and illness has struck the Ducks line-up hard this week. Captain Ryan Getzlaf, who leads the Ducks in scoring with 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists), has been day-to-day with an upper body injury and the last word was he remains questionable for tonight. Corey Perry, just a point behind with 21, was in the line-up against the Lightning but was been reported to be suffering from flu symptoms.
- Goaltender Viktor Fasth was activated off IR yesterday, and Frederik Andersen (yes the former Hurricanes prospect who won his first 6 games as a rookie starter) was sent down to the Norfolk Admirals. Fasth backed up Jonas Hiller last night, who was reported to be suffering from flu symptoms himself and had a less-than-spectacular showing. Post-game reports from head coach Bruce Boudreau indicate Fasth will get the start tonight. Fasth has not previously faced the Canes in his NHL career, and is 2-1-0 with a 3.33 GAA and .877 save percentage with just three games this season.
- With a late arrival in Raleigh and coming in with a back-to-back scenario, it's doubtful the Ducks will hold a morning skate and therefore information on injuries, illnesses, and any other line-up changes will probably be unavailable or late forthcoming.
- Other injuries: Saku Koivu (concussion), Sheldon Souray (wrist), and Jakob Silfverberg (broken hand) are all on injured reserve.
We'll have the open game thread ready to roll at 6:30 pm. See you at the rink. No strings attached ;)