The Carolina Hurricanes are in Sunrise Florida to take on the Florida Panthers tonight in a battle between the bottom feeders of the Southeast Division. The Hurricanes are in last place sitting at 2-8-3. They are also tied for last place in the league and have lost nine games in a row. The bewildered team has yet to win a road game this entire season, (0-5-2).
After a slow start, the Panthers have now won two games in a row and are feeling somewhat good about themselves. But their home record is 1-4-0. Overall they are 4-7-1.
The Hurricanes will be taking the ice without team leader, Eric Staal, for the first time since 2004. The other players on the team now have an opportunity to step up and be heard, without standing in his shadow. We will see if any new leaders emerge.
Jussi Jokinen has been moved to first line center and Rod Brind'Amour, who at one time was moved to wing, will return to the third line center position.
Tim Gleason will be welcomed back to the blueline after missing five games. Jay Harrison was sent to Albany, leaving Tim Conboy as the probable healthy scratch. (Michael Ryan has been injured since the beginning of the season.)
In yesterday's practice, the lines looked like this:
- Jokinen, Ruutu, Cole
- Cullen, Whitney, LaRose
- Brind'Amour, Samsonov, Walker
- Sutter, Yelle, Kostopoulos
- Gleason, Corvo
- Pitkanen, Ward
- Alberts, Wallin
Cam Ward will return to the net and will most likely be facing Tomas Vokoun on the other side. After a strong start, Ward's stats have been dropping like a rock in recent games.
|2009 - Cam Ward||12||703||2||7||36||3.07||352||316||.898||0|
|2009 - Tomas Vokoun||10||586||2||7||32||3.28||363||331||.912||1|
Ray Whitney leads the scoring for the Canes followed by Jussi Jokinen. Brandon Sutter has scored the only goals in the last two games for the visitors.
|2009 - Ray Whitney||13||4||4||8||-4||6||0||0||0||0||25||16.0|
|2009 - Jussi Jokinen||13||3||5||8||-5||6||1||0||1||0||20||15.0|
Stephen Reinprecht and Nathan Horton lead the Panthers with popular ex-Hurricane Dennis Seidenberg having an excellent year so far for his new team.
|2009 - Steven Reinprecht||12||8||3||11||5||4||1||0||0||0||25||32.0|
|2009 - Nathan Horton||12||3||7||10||-1||20||1||0||0||0||28||10.7|
|2009 - Dennis Seidenberg||12||1||6||7||4||0||0||0||0||0||22||4.5|
Seidenberg not only has more points than any Hurricanes defenseman, he is tied for second in the NHL with 39 blocked shots. Trading for Aaron Ward instead of re-signing Seidenberg might have been one of the mistakes that GM Jim Rutherford was alluding to earlier this week.
Cane-killer David Booth is out with a concussion.
The last time these two teams met on October 9 was the last time the Hurricanes won, period. They had an easy time of it back then, winning 7-2, but Florida had been off for a week after returning from Europe where they opened the season with a two game split. The Canes will be facing a different Panthers team tonight.
The game has a late start of 7:30 and will be telecast in HD by FS Carolinas. 99.9 The Fan will have the radio broadcast and we will have our Game Thread open here at 6:30.
For the latest about the Panthers, check out Whale4ever's blog at Litter Box Cats.