Hurricanes Record: 3-4-0, 6 pts.
Leafs Record: 4-4-0, 8 pts.
Tonight's game is the first of three meetings this season between the Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs. The Hurricanes went 3-0-1 against the Leafs last season. Both teams are coming off losses on Saturday night, the Hurricanes lost 5-3 on the road against the Philadelphia Flyers, and the Maple Leafs were shut out at home 1-0 against the Boston Bruins.
The Hurricanes did not get the road start they wanted, falling 5-3 to the Flyers Saturday night in a game that really wasn't as close as the final score suggested. Special teams was the downfall, as the Flyers converted on all three power play attempts to keep the game out of reach. While the Hurricanes did convert on a late power play goal by Patrick Dwyer, they currently rank in the NHL's bottom four for both man-advantage and short-handed situations.
Yesterday the Carolina Hurricanes announced forward Tim Wallace has been recalled from the Charlotte Checkers, and forward Zac Dalpe has been reassigned to Charlotte (press release). This is Wallace's debut with the Hurricanes, although he has 73 career NHL games under his belt between the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders, and most recently the Tampa Bay Lightning (18 games in 2011-12). He has 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) in the NHL, and has 20 points (9 goals, 11 assists) in 43 games this season with the Checkers.
While Wallace brings a more physical edge to the game than Dalpe, he's not known at the NHL level for his scoring touch (although he does have 13 points in his last 13 games in Charlotte). He will likely be slotted on the fourth or possibly third line duty, where Dalpe mainly played in the top six alongside Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner. So, we'll see some new line combinations shaking out of today's pre-game skate. Forgive me for not making any guesses here. If information is forthcoming (Canes skate at ACC at 11:30 am), we'll post an update.
The captain continues to lead the pack when it comes to scoring. Eric Staal has six goals (nine points) in seven games. That's good enough to tie him for fourth in the NHL. The elder Staal also has points in five straight games. Meanwhile, his younger brother is tallying the assists. Jordan's six assists are good enough for a second-place points tie (with Jeff Skinner), but Jordan has yet to light the lamp. Perhaps a change on his wing tonight affects that stat.
Maple Leafs Notes
"He's knocking at the door, lady luck just needs to answer." - Pension Plan Puppets
"Why, hello there." - Lady Luck
There is only one vital piece of information you need to know going into tonight's matchup with the Leafs: Phil Kessel has not scored this season. Now that we have that out of the way, it's only a matter of how many goals he scores against us tonight. Kessel has been pounding on the door (36 shots on goal through 8 games, only Erik Karlsson and Sidney Crosby have more but both have played an extra game) and it's only a matter of time before one or more find the back of the net.
On the other end of the ice, James Reimer has been steady in net (2.47 GAA and .922 save percentage) and is coming off a solid 37 save performance against the Bruins. The Leafs are playing in a back-to-back scenario with a game against the Capitals Tuesday night, which could set up backup Ben Scrivens for one game out of the two. Reimer is 3-0-1 with one shutout against the Canes, and Scrivens is 0-1-0.
In all likelihood, the Leafs will be without defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, who was out of the lineup Saturday night and underwent testing on Sunday. Gunnarsson did not appear to be at 100% when he returned from Europe after the lockout and is said to have a lower body injury. Defenseman Korbinian Holzer was recalled Sunday to take his place on the roster.
Brian will have more analysis on our opponent later in today, and we'll start the game thread at 6:30 pm. See you there!