Defenseman Niclas Wallin will return to the lineup for the 7 p.m. matchup between the Carolina Hurricanes, (9-21-6) and the Montreal Canadiens, (17-18-3) tonight at the RBC. Jay Harrison will be the odd man out. (UPDATE: The Hurricanes just announced that they reassigned the defenseman to Albany today).
The blueline is still a bit of a patchwork as Brett Carson remains in the lineup. Tim Gleason continues to be bothered by the injury to his face suffered in Washington a couple of weeks ago. He tried wearing a cage at the morning skate, but hated it and will go back to a visor tonight. On Monday night he started out wearing a visor, but had it removed during the first intermission.
In the meantime, Joni Pitkanen continues to garner major minutes of TOI. As Cory reported yesterday, he has over 700 minutes logged so far this season, more than any other Carolina player, even though he has missed 10 games due to various injuries.
I asked the defenseman today if there was a limit as to how many minutes he could, or should play? "It varies from game to game," Pitkanen said. "Some nights 26 minutes seems like a lot if I do a lot of skating. Other nights, I can do more. It depends on each game."
I asked him how he felt about going over 30 minutes, like has has done at least a couple of times this season. "Oh no, that is too much," Pitkanen shook his head as he answered. "I am not at my best when that happens, it is too tiring."
Other than the change on the blueline, the Canes will ice the same lineup they had on Monday against the Rangers. Carolina goalie Cam Ward will be facing Jaroslav Halak in net for the Habs. Ward is 9-2-2 in 13 career starts against Montreal.
|2009 - Cam Ward||21||1173||4||12||60||3.07||589||529||.898||0|
|2009 - Jaroslav Halak||14||782||8||5||35||2.69||418||383||.916||1|
While Eric Staal and Sergei Samsonov missed yesterday's practice, both will play tonight. Ray Whitney took this morning off and missed the morning skate. Paul Maurice joked that he felt the winger had probably attended enough morning skates during the course of his career. Whitney will play tonight as well.
This is the third contest in a four game homestand for the Canes. They are 1-1 so far and have an overall record of 8-8-2 at home. They finish the homestand on Saturday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. That one should be interesting.
Montreal is coming off an overtime win in Atlanta on Monday night. They shut out the Islanders, 3-0 just before that, but were riding a five game losing streak prior to facing the Islanders. For more information about the Habs, check out Habs Eyes on the Prize and Habs Inside/Out.
Interestingly enough, the Canadiens have not won a game on December 23 since 1945. When told of that little tidbit during the press conference, Paul Maurice quipped, "Let's hope the streak continues."
The Canes lost in a shootout in their only previous meeting with the Habs this season.
Undecided about going to the game? Erik Cole bobbleheads will be given out to the first 10,000 fans. Also, there is a holiday "two-for-one" ticket promotion for those who bring in can goods for the poor. Don't miss this game, Caniacs.
FS Carolinas will have the television broadcast and even though John Forslund worked in Chicago last night and flew into town at 6 a.m. this morning, he will be fresh and ready to go with his partner in crime, Tripp Tracy. Mike Maniscalco will host the Stormfront and Aftermath on 99.9 The Fan.