Enjoy the rarified air while it lasts. For the time being, the Carolina Hurricanes sit at the top of the Southeast Division. Tonight they wrap up a six-game road trip with one last stop in Newark to take on the New Jersey Devils.
Carolina Hurricanes at New Jersey Devils
Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 7:00 pm EST
Prudential Center - Newark, New Jersey
TV - Fox Sports Carolinas HD Radio - 99.9 The Fan
SB Nation Devils Blog: In Lou We Trust (twitter @InLouWeTrust)
Hurricanes Record: 6-4-1 (13 points)
Devils Record: 8-1-3 (19 points)
In the spirit of full disclosure, I'm writing most of this preview Monday night and I'm still feeling just a little giddy after watching Jiri Tlusty, Alexander Semin, and Eric Staal combine for 4 goals and 9 points in the third period to seal a 6-4 win against the New York Islanders. But I hope the team isn't riding high and is instead focusing at the task at hand tonight, which is closing out the road trip with a win against the team sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference with five straight wins, the New Jersey Devils.
The Hurricanes were not very successful in their quest last season against the Eastern Conference champions, going 1-3-0 in their four-game series, the last one a 5-0 beat-down at PNC Arena on March 31, 2012.
This is the first of three meetings this season between the Hurricanes and Devils. The Canes are wrapping up a six-game road trip where so far they have earned seven out of a possible ten points. The Devils last played over the weekend and swept a home-and-home series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
So what should we expect from this familiar foe?
Ilya Kovalchuk is tied in points (10) with Alexander Semin, except the Devils' Russian star isn't nearly as enigmatic, but more importantly, he has 70 points in 56 career games against the Hurricanes including two 3-point games last season. It's certainly reasonable to expect yet another multi-point night from this perpetual Canes-killer.
Adam Henrique is currently on a hot streak for the Devils, with points in five straight games, including one game-winner. The young center also logged a game-winner against the Hurricanes last season, his first full season in the NHL, and there is no reason to expect that trend not to continue tonight.
David Clarkson has never scored a hat trick, although he came close on Sunday with two goals against the Penguins (not to be confused with Kelly Clarkson's Sunday hat trick of a Grammy award, a live musical performance, and a photo bomb). Clarkson, who scored his first NHL goal against the Hurricanes, is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, and he's playing for a big payday with his physical style and team leading 15 points. Clarkson always shows up to play against the Canes, and tonight should be no different.
In net, a man who needs no introduction after 1200 NHL games, Martin Brodeur. His athleticism is unmatched. His start this season is strong, with a 6-1 record and .911 save percentage. His record against the Hurricanes is stellar, 37-14-6 record, 2.04 GAA, and nine donuts. Solving Marty Brodeur is certainly not a challenge for the faint of heart.
Forward Dainius Zubrus has been out of the line-up for the last three games with and upper body injury that is listed as day-to-day, and it appears he will be out again tonight.
In Lou We Trust has an excellent game preview that breaks down tonight's match-up, it's well worth the read.
The Hurricanes aren't holding a pre-game skate today, so it is unlikely there will be any updates in terms of our lineups until this evening. Here's how they lined up for last night's game:
Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Alexander Semin
Jeff Skinner - Jordan Staal - Patrick Dwyer
Drayson Bowman - Jussi Jokinen - Chad LaRose
Andreas Nodl - Tim Brent - Tim Wallace
Tim Gleason - Joe Corvo
Joni Pitkanen - Justin Faulk
Jay Harrison - Jamie McBain
Per Tom Gulitti (Devils beat reporter from The Record), here's how the Devils are lining up for this morning's pre-game skate.
Stefan Matteau - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Patrik Elias - Adam Henrique - David Clarkson
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier
Krystofer Barch - Jacob Josefson - Bobby Butler
Bryce Salvador - Peter Harrold
Andy Greene - Adam Larsson
Anton Volchenkov - Marek Zidlicky
We'll start the game thread at 6:30 pm. See you there.