Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal has seen a lot of hockey for being just 26 years old. He's won the Memorial Cup, won Olympic gold, and won the Stanley Cup. He's been an All Star Game MVP, already holds several franchise scoring records, and is now team captain. Tonight he will reach another milestone when he plays in his 500th career game as the Hurricanes, (9-9-2) take on the Washington Capitals, (14-6-2) at the RBC Center.
But this game holds more story lines than just Eric Staal. Cam Ward's wife Cody delivered the couple's first child last night and the goalie will be sitting this game out. Justin Peters will get the nod.
The Canes will be sporting a new look fourth line featuring former Ducks Troy Bodie and Ryan Carter. Both bruisers will be looked upon to forecheck hard and to bring some extra physicality to the game. Jiri Tlusty will be joining them.
The newly acquired Carter said he arrived at about 6 a.m. this morning and is working on pure adrenaline right now, although he's hoping to get a little rest before the game. The center has had an interesting couple of days. After having cleared waivers with no takers, he was a bit surprised to be traded to the Canes. When he called his wife to tell her, she responded with a "no way!!" Needless to say, he is pleased to have another chance and hopes to make a positive impression tonight.
The rest of the lines will be the same as in recent games:
- Staal, LaRose, Samsonov
- Sutter, Dwyer, Jokinen
- Ruutu, Skinner, Cole
- Carter, Tlusty, Bodie
- Corvo, Gleason
- Pitkanen, White
- Harrison, McBain
Jon Matsumoto will be the scratch. (It's just been reported that the Canes put the center on waivers with the intent to move him to Charlotte)
Peters was calm, cool, and collected after the morning skate. He said he was looking forward to the challenge. The young goalie has a 1-0-0 career record against Washington.
Staal has 44 points in 43 career games against this team.
Tuomo Ruutu and Joni Pitkanen have Carolina's longest current scoring streaks. Both have points in three straight games.
The Canes are coming off two shootout losses in a row, but have earned points in their last three games.
The Capitals are facing a bit of adversity as they have lost three straight, including two, 5-0 spankings at the hands of the Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils. Coach Bruce Boudreau put the players through a tough practice yesterday, so the team will probably have a bit more snarl than usual.
They are led by the usual suspects, although Alex Ovechkin has been a bit quiet as of late:
|2010 - Alexander Semin||22||14||12||26||6||22||4||1||1||74|
|2010 - Alex Ovechkin||22||10||16||26||4||16||2||0||3||91|
|2010 - Nicklas Backstrom||22||7||15||22||7||10||4||1||1||43|
These three players love to light up the Canes. Ovechkin has 48 points in 36 career games, Semin has 38 points in 30 career games, and Backstrom has 24 points in 21 career games against Carolina.
Mike Knuble has been fighting an injury and will be out for this one.
It looked like Semyon Varlamov would be the goalie of choice for the Caps tonight. The Russian netminder has been fighting injuries most of the season and has just returned from Hershey where he was on a conditioning stint.
Japers' Rink will have anything else you need to know about the Caps.
Hockeymom's gameday guide has the updates and is ready for printing.
The Canes are led in scoring by Staal, Jussi Jokinen, and rookie Jeff Skinner.
|2010 - Eric Staal||20||9||14||23||-2||18||3||1||3||78|
|2010 - Jussi Jokinen||20||4||13||17||-5||10||2||0||0||40|
|2010 - Jeff Skinner||20||6||10||16||-4||2||1||0||0||51|
This will be the second meeting between the teams this season. The Caps took game one, 3-0 at the RBC in Carolina's home opener last month. The Hurricanes went 3-2-1 against the Caps last season.
Local FS Carolinas will have all the action in HD. We will be covering this one in our open game thread starting at 6:30.
(Congrats to Cam and Cody Ward on the birth of their son, Nolan Kennedy Ward)