It's game day for the Carolina Hurricanes at the RBC Center as the Ottawa Senators are set to arrive later this afternoon for the 7pm game; there's the added bonus of Jussi Jokinen bobbleheads for the first 10,000 fans. Behind the scenes, it feels like anything but just another day at the office. There are a lot of questions and pending decisions hanging in the air. The 'Canes season seems to be at a crossroads and tonight's game (combined with the two upcoming games this weekend) may set the course for the team and, in particular, for a few of the players, for the balance of the year.
You can sense the uncertainty from a look at these local stories:
Timing Critical for O'Sullivan Comeback - Tracking the Storm Blog Nothing about Patrick O’Sullivan’s season to this point has been typical. He’s hoping to change that starting Wednesday.
Hurricanes try to toughen up - Chip Alexander - N&O The Carolina Hurricanes will arrive at the RBC Center today for the morning skate to find a newcomer in their midst.
Also from Wednesday's N&O: Canes sit on shaky defensive foundation - Luke DeCock When the Carolina Hurricanes lose a game in Montreal, something is seriously wrong.
And the CanesNow story yesterday afternoon, following the announcement that Troy Bodie was joining the team, also quoted General Manager Jim Rutherford to say that this wasn't the final move. Canes claim Bodie off waivers
"So many things, I guess, could happen to clean up that situation." That might involve a trade. Rutherford said adding a defenseman might be a possibility.
As always, I encourage you to find time to listen to the latest 30-minute podcast from the Hurricanes' own Paul Branecky and Kyle Hanlin from late Tuesday afternoon. They discuss the acquisition of Bodie, the status of other roster players, and roll up their sleeves to present a load of statistics to refute any criticism of Eric Staal and his contributions so far on the season. Hurricanes Report, November 16, 2010.
After the jump, more on the circumstances surrounding tonight's game and a few good links from around the NHL.
While the front office manages the names on the roster, Maurice and his counterparts from Ottawa are mindful about what's happening between the players' ears and seek to respond appropriately.
Paul Maurice: Post-practice 5-minute audio from Tuesday. He frames these past couple days as a chance to "hit that re-set button" and emphasizes the importance of staying positive:
Confident energetic upbeat teams win more games than tight nervous teams, especially when they're young.
Sens shed tears for Richardsons inc VIDEO | Ottawa Sun Keep this context in mind tonight: Ottawa Senators alternate Captains Chris Phillips and Mike Fisher fought back tears as they faced the media in the Scotiabank Place hallway on Tuesday.
Plus this report from the Ottawa Citizen this morning Senators, fans to mourn Daron Richardson at Scotiabank Place Hockey stars, community leaders, fans and friends will join in mourning at Scotiabank Place Wednesday at a memorial service for 14-year-old Daron Richardson.
**LATE ADDS, from after the skate today:
Hockey on its own terms
I like these four stories together to describe the culture of NHL hockey and tell us a bit about where it's going.
Bob McKenzie: Campbell still has backing of NHL community Even before 'Colie-mail' arrived in our collective in-box this week, there has been outrage towards NHL VP and league disciplinarian Colin Campbell. Everywhere except within the NHL community.
Avalanche center Matt Duchene gets into first NHL fight | All Things Avs From Colorado Avalanche beat writer Adrian Dater: Matt Duchene also took a couple of good shots too; it wasn’t a one-sided fight. But as the kid said himself after the game, sometimes you just have to drop ‘em in this sport and it doesn’t really matter who wins or loses. It took me a long time to figure that out.
John Buccigross looks at the reinvention of the New Jersey Devils - ESPN Yes, the Devils are at a turning point in the franchise's history, but a grassroots effort to bring more fans to Prudential Center means the future is very bright.
Laviolette's challenge - HurricanesBeat.com He savors Carolina's Cup, but pressures abound as he forges Philadelphia's identity
Early Season surprises
Take a look at The NHL’s Most Surprising Stats - From The Rink Cory Lavalette has some of the more interesting NHL stats from the first fifth of the season.
Eastern Conference Echoes: Top 5 Suprise Players This Season | Too Many Men on the Site New names have emerged that some fans may not be too familiar with, but they've certainly have given fans a reason to watch. (OR: another blogger hops on the Jeff Skinner bandwagon - still plenty of room for more.)
The Checkers and other Prospects news
The Charlotte Checkers also have a hockey game tonight after a strong pair of wins last weekend. The Flyers' affiliate Adirondack Phantoms are here in North Carolina for two games this week, having lost 11 of their last 12 games. Here's a link to the preview and also audio comments from goaltender Justin Pogge. Radio broadcaster Jason Shaya gets to ask Pogge about his mad puck-handling skillz: Morning skate interviews with Coach Daniels and Justin Pogge | Checkers Chatter
For many of us, it's never too early to start thinking about the next NHL Entry Draft: Couturier, Landeskog, Nugent-Hopkins, Biggs among best 2010 NHL Entry Draft prospects - 2011 NHL Entry Draft If you're not familiar with young Swedish winger Gabriel Landeskog, he is now the captain of the OHL's Kitchener Rangers after contributing much on Jeff Skinner's line last season.
VIDEO: Subway Super Series 2010 Game 4: Canes prospect Justin Shugg gets some love for his contributions in the win by Team OHL over the Russians.
I've updated the Canes Country Calendar with a couple new items pertaining to the All Star Game in January and the game schedule of Team USA at the World Junior Championships, which begins December 26th. If Justin Faulk and Brian Dumoulin, both highly regarded defensemen in the Canes system, make the US team, which they should, this will be must-see TV for a glimpse to the team's future.
If you've ever seen the TV show "Sports Science", you are familiar with the kind of fun they could have with this topic. Puck Central : Why Putting A Fat Goalie In Net Won't Work