The Carolina Hurricanes are back in action tonight to face the new and improved, Calgary Flames. The team from Alberta had an active trade deadline day and added Jordan Leopold and Ollie Jokinen to their already potent club. Of course Jokinen is a past nemesis of the Hurricanes and has scored more goals against this franchise, than he has again any other in the NHL.
The Flames are coming off a dominating 5-1 win in Philadelphia last night. Both newcomers scored, as Jokinen chipped in two goals and Leopold added one. Calgary is red hot and is sporting a 9-1-2 record in their last 12 games.
Miikka Kiprusoff was in net last night, could the Canes catch a break and see back up Curtis McElhinney?
|2008 - Miikka Kiprusoff||60||3540||39||15||5||3||161||2.73||1745||1584||.908||4|
|2008 - Curtis McElhinney||7||321||0||4||1||2||19||3.55||176||157||.892||0|
The Hurricanes will be inserting newly acquired Erik Cole into the lineup tonight. Cole will play on a line with Eric Staal and Tuomo Ruutu as the Canes will be hoping to rekindle the old chemistry between the center and wingman. Staal has assisted on 25 goals by Cole, and Cole has assisted on 31 goals by Staal. For each player, that is the highest number of assists on goals by any one teammate.
Cole currently is ranked fourth highest in goals scored, (129), sixth in points, (218), third in shorthanded goals, (7), and second in hat tricks, (4), since the franchise has moved to North Carolina.
Sergei Samsonov will be moved to the Rod Brind'Amour/Patrick Eaves line. Last season, Samsonov and Brind'Amour discovered decent chemistry between them and had good success together. Perhaps this move can jack up the captain's game?
The Cullen/Whitney/LaRose line will remain unchanged. At this point it is unknown who will play on the fourth line, but look for Dwight Helminen to center Scott Walker and Tim Conboy. The team seems unsure what to do with callup Mike Ryan, but the speedy winger has not been returned to Albany yet. He could be in the lineup, but he was not at practice yesterday.
UPDATE: Kaberle, Ryan, and Bayda will be scratched for tonight.
Look for Cam Ward to start his 13th consecutive game. Will he get a break tomorrow night?
|2008 - Cam Ward||52||2988||27||21||3||10||128||2.57||1425||1297||.910||4|
The Hurricanes penalty kill has improved drastically during the past few weeks. They have killed 83.3%, (60-72), since January 17th. If they had that percentage going all season, it would be good enough for 6th place in the NHL. Not only are they killing penalties, they are scoring shorthanded as well. The team had two in their last game against Washington, (Eaves and Cullen).
This will be the first game in a back-to-back situation for the Hurricanes as they will fly to Tampa right after this game for another match up with the Lightning tomorrow night. The Canes are 5-5-1 for the opening games but have a 9-2 record for the second contests, in previous consecutive game scenarios.
The Hurricanes remain the least penalized team in the NHL as they average only 9.8 PIM per game. Calgary is currently 26th in the league as they average 15.6 PIM. While this would typically be looked upon as a great stat, it's assumed that part of the reason for the low penalty time is because of the lack of fighting majors this team takes. More analysis about that later.
Each and every game is significant now as the team fights for their playoff lives and they have just 17 games left. Currently they find themselves tied for 9th place with Buffalo and remain three points out of the playoffs. Can they do it?
The game will be broadcast locally by FS Carolinas starting at 7PM.