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Jiri Tlusty Looking for Fresh Start: Hurricanes at Capitals, Game Day Preview

(Washington, D.C.)  The Carolina Hurricanes are in Washington to do battle with the Southeast Division and Eastern Conference leading Washington Capitals tonight at the Verizon Center.  Things have not gotten any brighter for the Hurricanes since their Wednesday night loss to the Devils as they placed two more players on the injured reserve this morning. 

Erik Cole and Chad LaRose will not be dressed for tonight's contest.

Cole's injury is reported as an "upper body."  When pressed for details, Coach Paul Maurice stated that it was a lingering injury that Cole had been fighting for awhile, even though he had played very well lately.  "They just feel it's time to rest him and want to give him a chance to heal."

LaRose's injury is a lower body concern that he has been fighting for some time.  Maurice said that the forward had been trying to play through it "heroically".

The coach went on, "While our injury list has been long this year, the list of guys playing through injuries is even longer."

They join Joe Corvo, who is on long term injured reserve and Niclas Wallin, who is also banged up.  Sergei Samsonov skated today, but was not apart of any of the forward lines in practice and does not appear to be in tonight's lineup.

The team recalled Jiri Tlusty and Patrick Dwyer from Albany to fill in.  Tlusty had just been acquired in a trade which sent first round draft choice, Philippe Paradis to Toronto.

The newcomer sounded excited about his opportunity with the Canes and is looking forward to scoring goals for his new team.  I asked him about his game and what fans could expect to see.

"I'm always trying to score some goals," Tlusty said.  "I try to leave everything I've got out on the ice.  And that is what I try to bring every single night.  I will look to help on the offense, in any way I can and hopefully we can win some more games here, and start out from there."

Tlusty will be skating with the Brandon Sutter line.  Paul Maurice feels the two should do well together and wanted to match up their quickness.  For now, Tom Kostopoulos will be joining them.

Patrick Dwyer will start out skating with Eric Staal and Ray Whitney.  But Maurice said he would be moving Dwyer around.

The lines at this morning's skate were as follows:

  • Staal, Whitney, Dwyer
  • Cullen, Jokinen, Ruutu
  • Sutter, Tlusty, Kostopoulos
  • Yelle, Brind'Amour, Walker

Gleason, Pitkanen, Alberts, Ward, Harrison, and Carson will be on the blueline.

Cam Ward will start in net and will be facing Jose Theodore for the Caps.

2009 - Cam Ward 16 888 2 10 44 2.97 436 392 .899 0

2009 - Jose Theodore 17 902 7 4 46 3.06 468 422 .902 0


Any good news for Hurricanes fans?  Ward has had success against Washington in the past and is 12-5-2 lifetime with three shutouts against this team.  He looked a bit rusty in his first game back against the Devils two nights ago, will he be back to normal tonight?

The Capitals were just shut out by Ryan Miller in Buffalo on Wednesday night, so they will be in a testy mood.  Of course, they were not happy about Alex Ovechkin's two game suspension because of a knee-on-knee collision with Tim Gleason about two weeks ago, so Ovechkin might come out with some extra fire for this game, not that he needs it.

Alexander Semin has returned to the lineup after missing a few games, including the contest in Raleigh on November 30th which the Canes lost 3-2.  Mike Knuble has also been out but will return tonight as will Matt Bradley.

The Hurricanes are trying to improve upon their league worst 1-11-3 road record, but will be hard pressed tonight.  Will a healthy Cam Ward make a difference?  Will Eric Staal light the lamp for the first time since his return from injury?  Will newcomer Jiri Tlusty make a difference in his Carolina debut?

The puck drops at 7 tonight and the game will be telecast locally by FS Carolinas.  I will be reporting from the Verizon Center and will crank up the Open Game Thread at 6:30.

If you would like more information about the Caps, check out Japers' Rink for the latest.