Carolina Hurricanes at Winnipeg Jets
Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 8:00 pm ET
MTS Center - Winnipeg, MB
TV - Fox Sports Carolinas HD Radio - 99.9 The Fan
Hurricanes Record: 17-23-2 (36 pts.)
Jets Record: 22-19-2 (46 pts.)
Tonight's game marks the last time the Hurricanes and the former Atlanta Thrashers will meet as Southeast Division rivals. The teams have met three times prior this season. The Jets hold a 2-1 record and won both games in Raleigh (4-3 on February 21st, 4-1 on March 26th), and the Hurricanes defeated the Jets 3-1 in Winnipeg on March 30th.
The Hurricanes are coming off a 3-2 loss to the Senators in Ottawa Tuesday night, the Jets won at home in a 4-3 shootout against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The tragic number is now down to 2 as tonight is a playoff elimination game for the Hurricanes. A regulation loss to the Jets, or a win by the New York Rangers tonight against the Florida Panthers, officially eliminates the Hurricanes from the post-season.
On the mind of Hurricanes fans today is the condition of forward Jeff Skinner. Skinner left Tuesday's game after suffering a blow to the head on an open ice hit from Senators defenseman Jared Cowen, which would raise concern regardless but is complicated by his history of two recent concussions. Skinner returned to Raleigh yesterday for follow-up medical evaluation and is out pending the results of the evaluation, and at this time there is no formal news on his condition.
Yesterday general manager Jim Rutherford also announced that defenseman Joni Pitkanen underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair a broken heel. Pitkanen suffered his injury in a game against the Washington Capitals on April 2nd. According to Rutherford, Pitkanen is expected to make a full recovery in time for next season's training camp.
Chip Alexander is in Winnipeg and spoke with Rutherford about Skinner and Pitkanen; his article is in today's News & Observer.
Tim Wallace is expected to return tonight after being out the last two games with an upper body injury, negating the need for a call-up from Charlotte to replace Skinner. This still leaves the Hurricanes starting only 11 forwards and carrying a seventh defensemen.
The Hurricanes did not practice on Wednesday before flying to Winnipeg, so any shuffling of the lines to account for the loss of Skinner won't be known until after today's pre-game skate.
Head coach Kirk Muller will be coaching his 100th NHL game tonight. Through 99 games, Muller's record is 42-43-14, with 98 points.
The Jets are tied with the Rangers for eighth in the Eastern Conference but the Rangers have a game in hand. They are within four points of the Washington Capitals for the lead in the Southeast Division.
The Jets are on a four-game winning streak, and captain and former Hurricane Andrew Ladd leads the way with four goals and eight points in those wins. Ladd is also now sitting at 299 career points (in other words, book it). On Wednesday evening the Jets team website was running a poll to ask how Ladd would score his 300th point. The choices are: even strength goal, power play goal, assist, game winner, or shorthanded goal (side note, under different circumstances, I would have added another choice - on Cam Ward).
Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec will be counted on in net down the stretch and he has the confidence of the team with four straight wins. Pavelec is 19-18-2 for the season with a .907 save percentage and 2.75 GAA. Career versus the Hurricanes he is 5-7-2 with a 3.69 GAA in 15 games.
In a rather remarkable story, after suffering a devastating injury in a pre-game skate here in Raleigh on February 21st, defenseman Zach Redmond has recovered enough to be assigned to the St. John's Ice Caps for a conditioning stint. Redmond was severely cut by a teammate's skate and required surgery to repair damage (click here, not for the squeamish) to his femoral artery, nerves, and tendons in his right leg.
Ever wonder what they're chanting in the arena? Find out on twitter at @MTSCentreChants
Jets depth chart (from team website):
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Olli Jokinen - Kyle Wellwood
Eric Tangradi - Alexander Burmistrov - Mike Santorelli
Chris Thorburn - Andre Gagnon - James Wright
Grant Clitsome - Dustin Byfuglien
Ron Hainsey - Zach Bogosian
Paul Postma - Mark Stuart
If you haven't seen last night's performance of the National Anthem at TD Garden in Boston prior to the game between the Bruins and Buffalo Sabres, watch it now, it's worth a look. The Bruins also showed a "Boston Strong" video paying tribute to those affected by Monday's Boston Marathon bombing. After the game (Buffalo won 3-2 in a shootout), both teams jointly gave the crowd on hand a stick salute.
We'll launch tonight's open game thread at 7:30 pm. See you there.