James Guillory-US PRESSWIRE
The medical ward has opened for business as the Carolina Hurricanes prepare to face the Winnipeg Jets tonight with an injury-depleted roster.
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Winnipeg Jets
Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 7:00 pm EST
PNC Arena - Raleigh, NC
TV - Fox Sports Carolinas HD Radio - 99.9 The Fan
Tailgate Forecast: Sunny, High 52 / Low 35
SB Nation Jets Blog: Arctic Ice Hockey (twitter @arcticicehockey)
Hurricanes Record: 8-5-1 (17 points)
Jets Record: 6-8-1 (13 points)
Tonight's game is the first of four against this faraway Southeast division rival. The Jets took the six-game series between the two teams last season with a 4-2-0 record. The Jets last game was a 2-1 win over the Sabres in Buffalo Tuesday night. The Hurricanes are coming off a frustrating 3-0 shutout loss to the Canadiens in Montreal Monday night.
For the Hurricanes, the primary story remains the status of a number of key players, not the least of which is the injured Jeff Skinner, who the Canes organization confirmed yesterday is suffering from a concussion and will be out indefinitely. That news coupled with the loss of another defensemen due to an undisclosed illness/injury to Jamie McBain have caused another round of roster shuffling and line-up changes. In case you weren't keeping score, here is the Cliff Notes version.
Joni Pitkanen - Lower body. Last played 2/12 vs Devils in New Jersey. On IR (retroactive to 2/12). Skated yesterday with the team in practice. Could be activated to play tonight.
Tim Gleason - Lower body. Last played 2/12 vs Devils in New Jersey. On IR (retroactive to 2/12). Has not resumed skating with the team. Out tonight, officially listed as day-to-day.
Jeff Skinner - Concussion. Last played 2/14 vs Toronto in Raleigh. Out indefinitely.
Tim Brent - Groin. Last played 2/14 vs Toronto in Raleigh. Last practiced on Sunday. Out tonight, officially listed as day-to-day.
Jamie McBain - Undisclosed injury. Last played at Montreal on Monday. Did not practice with the team yesterday.
Tuomo Ruutu - Hip surgery, out since season began, no timetable for return (although he was spotted on skates at the Hurricanes Skate with the Canes charity event on Friday night).
Michal Jordan - Recalled on 2/14 and made his NHL debut vs Toronto.
Riley Nash - Recalled on 2/17 for the Montreal game on Monday.
Jeremy Welsh - Recalled on 2/18 for the Montreal game on Monday.
Ryan Murphy - Being recalled from Kitchener today (official news pending).
Here are the lines from yesterday's practice (along with audio from Kirk Muller):
Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Alexander Semin
Chad LaRose - Jordan Staal - Patrick Dwyer
Drayson Bowman - Jussi Jokinen - Tim Wallace
Kevin Westgarth - Riley Nash/Jeremy Welsh - Andreas Nodl
Jay Harrison - Justin Faulk
Joni Pitkanen - Joe Corvo
Michal Jordan - Bobby Sanguinetti
The good news? The Hurricanes top line remains intact for now. Eric Staal (55 points in 54 games) and Alex Semin (39 points in 37 games) are point-per-game players versus the Thrashers/Jets franchise, and Jiri Tlusty had 6 points (4 goals, 2 assists) last week to take home NHL Third Star of the week honors. Cam Ward is 21-10-4 with a 2.96 GAA and one shutout in 36 appearances (backup Dan Ellis is 3-2-0 in five games). Suffice it to say that the Hurricanes best players have to be the best players tonight.
The bad news? The schedule isn't getting any kinder to the fellows in the sightless eye. While the Hurricanes will spend a majority of the next eleven days in the comfort of PNC Arena, they will be playing five out of seven games against division rivals with a humongous big impact on the standings.
After three straight home losses, the Winnipeg Jets hit the road trying to find their identity. They kicked off a five-game road trip with their win in Buffalo Tuesday night.
Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec had been frustrating in net of late, with four straight losses, but was stellar in net against the Sabres, stopping 29 of 30 shots, and leading Winnipeg to a 2-1 win (and perhaps prompting the firing of Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff on Wednesday). Pavelec is 4-8-1 this season with a 2.96 GAA and .896 save percentage. In 12 appearances against the Hurricanes, he is 3-6-2 with a 4.04 GAA.
Regular roster netminder Al Montoya was injured last week in a game against the Flyers, and Edward Pasquale has been called up from the St. Johns Ice Caps to take his place. Pasquale has never started in an NHL game.
Who to watch? Obviously, none other than captain and ex-Cane Andrew Ladd. Ladd has four goals in his last four games (8 total and 15 points for the season), including the game winner against the Sabres. You may recall that Ladd had three game-winning goals against the Hurricanes last season, including the overtime winner on March 30th that mathematically eliminated the Hurricanes from the playoffs. I believe it is officially past time for Cam Ward to remember that on the ice, he and Andrew Ladd are NOT best friends.
Others to keep an eye on? Evander Kane is on a hot streak with four points in four games, and although his scoring numbers are off this season (2 goals, 2 assists), perpetual Canes-killer Olli Jokinen has 57 points in 55 career games against Carolina.
Projected Jets line-up:
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Alexander Burmstrov - Nik Antropov
Eric Tangradi - Olli Jokinen - Kyle Wellwood
James Wright - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn
Grant Clitsome - Dustin Byfuglien
Ron Hainsey - Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart - Paul Postma
Toby Enstrom (shoulder), Antti Miettinen (upper body) and Al Montoya (lower body) are all on injured reserve.
Brian will have additional analysis on our opponent later today, and we'll have the game thread ready to go at 6:30 pm. See you at the rink.