The Carolina Hurricanes, (2-5-2), and the Minnesota Wild, (2-7-0), will meet up for a game tonight at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Both teams are reeling with poor records although the Canes have lost five games in a row. The Wild lost in St. Louis last night, but beat the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday.
The Hurricanes will be starting Cam Ward for the 10th consecutive game as the goalie has yet to take a break this season. The original plan was to have Michael Leighton start at least one of these road games, but Paul Maurice changed his mind and will go with Ward once again. This back to back sequence is the third one this season in which Ward has started both sets of games. The Canes are 0-2 in the second games so far this season.
Of course, Tuomo Ruutu will be unavailable as he serves the first game of his suspension. Brandon Sutter has been recalled to take his place. It is assumed that Sutter will play center on the third line, but there was no game skate today so we will have to wait until tonight to find out for sure. Look for these lines:
- Staal, Whitney, LaRose
- Cullen, Brind'Amour, Walker
- Sutter, Jokinen, Samsonov
- Yelle, Kostopoulos, Conboy
According to Ice Chip, Tim Gleason is still ailing and is expected to miss another game. The defensive pairings will probably remain the same as last night.
Russo's Rants has Niklas Backstrom in goal again for the Wild. Here are both goalie's stats so far this season:
|2009 - Cam Ward||9||521||2||5||24||2.76||281||257||.915||0|
|2009 - Niklas Backstrom||7||422||2||5||18||2.56||221||203||.919||0|
The Wild are a different team from previous years with a new coach and new philosophy. Marian Gaborik left for New York, leaving the team with players like Eric Belanger to hold the fort.
|2009 - Eric Belanger||9||2||7||9||0||2||1||0||0||0||18||11.1|
As you can see, Belanger is having a pretty good season so far and will certainly be active again tonight as he always is against the Canes. Andrew Brunette and Mikko Koivu are also at the top of the leaderboard for the Wild. Martin Havlat and Chuck Kobasew are also worth watching.
The game will be broadcast in HD by FS Carolinas starting at 8 p.m. Eastern. Of course you can also listen at 99.9 The Fan. We will have the "Live Game Thread" cranked up at 7ish.