The Carolina Hurricanes visit Nassau Coliseum tonight for a contest with the New York Islanders in a matchup between two teams hoping to turn their early seasons around. The Islanders are 0-3-3 and are still looking for their very first win, but they are performing pretty much as expected. Their lineup is filled with youthful inexperience and their salary expense reflects what you see on the ice. (16 million in cap space available).
The Hurricanes on the other hand were selected by many to be a playoff team. But so far, management can not feel like they are getting their money's worth out of this collection of veteran players. (1.5 million in cap space). Currently they find themselves in 12th place in the conference and fourth place in the division. They have yet to win a game on the road, (0-3) and they are riding a three game losing streak.
Something has to give tonight for one of these teams.
(Household name) Matt Moulson leads the Islanders with four goals and three assists while first overall pick of last year's draft, John Tavares has three goals and four assists.
|2009 - Matt Moulson||6||4||3||7||2||6||2||0||0||0||26||15.4|
|2009 - John Tavares||6||3||4||7||0||2||2||0||0||0||21||14.3|
Mark Streit is always dangerous and is one of the better scoring defensemen in the league.
The Hurricanes are led by Jussi Jokinen, (2G 3A), Ray Whitney, (3g 1A), and Tuomo Ruutu, (1G 3A).
|2009 - Jussi Jokinen||7||2||3||5||1||4||1||0||1||0||11||18.2|
|2009 - Ray Whitney||7||3||1||4||-3||2||0||0||0||0||12||25.0|
|2009 - Tuomo Ruutu||7||1||3||4||-2||4||0||0||0||0||24||4.2|
Speaking of Whitney, tonight will be his 1,000th game in the NHL. That is quite an accomplishment for a player who was placed on waivers and bought out at certain points in his career. Dave Droschak has an excellent article about him here.
The Hurricanes swept the season series with the Islanders last season and have won 8 of the last 10 meetings.
But Carolina has had some much publicized scoring problems so far this season. The team is 28th in the league, averaging just two goals per game, and 29th in the league with a 11.1% powerplay.
The good news is that several banged up players seem to be healthy, or at least they were healthy enough to join practice yesterday. Eric Staal missed about a week of practice. Joni Pitkanen has missed most of the season. Several other players took a day or two off earlier this week, but on Tuesday, every player was on the ice except for Erik Cole and Michael Ryan, two players with longer term issues.
Coach Paul Maurice has tweaked the lines a bit. Look for them to start out like this:
- Staal, Whitney, Ruutu
- Cullen, LaRose, Walker
- Brind'Amour, Jokinen, Samsonov
- Yelle, Kostopoulos, Conboy
It is expected that Joni Pitkanen will play, but I'm not sure what the defensive pairings will be. Aaron Ward, who left the game early in New Jersey with an upper body concern, was back on the ice Monday and Tuesday and looked fine in practice.
Cam Ward will make his eighth straight start in net and has a career 9-2 record against the Islanders.
Martin Biron has gotten the bulk of minutes so far on the Island and will probably get the nod tonight, but that is not confirmed. Biron is 9-4-3 lifetime against the Canes. Chip Alexander has confirmed that Dwayne Roloson will get the nod for the Islanders.
Maurice has been critical of the team recently and called them "slow with what they do". Will they be quicker to the puck tonight? The game will be broadcast by FS Carolinas and 99.9 The Fan starting at 7.
This will be the first of three games in four nights for the Hurricanes and they really need to start things off on a positive note. Will they be able to?
For the latest about the Islanders, check out Lighthouse Hockey.