The Carolina Hurricanes, (22-18-6) have been sitting in ninth place in the Eastern Conference for awhile now and so far have been unable to work their way over the hump of mediocrity and into the promised land of postseason play.
The team currently finds itself three points behind Atlanta, (with two games in hand), six points behind Montreal, (with one game in hand), and seven points behind the New York Rangers. They can help their cause with a win and two points over those Rangers, (27-18-3) tonight at the RBC.
After starting out the new year on a high note and a multi-game point streak, the Hurricanes now are in a slump of sorts as they have lost two games in a row, and three of their last four. Team defense is certainly an issue as the Canes have allowed 17 goals against in those four games and have allowed 25 in their last six contests.
Jiri Tlusty is now healthy and is ready to return to action. To make room for him, Zach Boychuk was sent back to Charlotte, (where he scored a goal last night). Tlusty will start out on the fourth line along with Ryan Carter and Troy Bodie. The youngster had scored a couple of goals in recent games before his injury, so we'll see if he can pick up where he left off before the Ben Eager hit put him out of commission.
The lines should start out as follows:
- Staal, Cole, Samsonov
- Sutter, Dwyer, Jokinen
- Ruutu, Skinner, LaRose
- Carter, Tlusty, Bodie
- Gleason, Corvo
- Pitkanen, McBain
- Harrison, White
Cam Ward will get the start in goal.
The Rangers just played last night but are probably feeling pretty good about themselves after their 7-0 romp over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The recently benched Marian Gaborik lit the lamp four times himself in that contest.
The Blueshirts are missing a lot regulars though and now leading scorer Brandon Dubinsky as well as Ruslan Fedotenko have joined their other banged up comrades, including Ryan Callahan, Alex Frolov, and Chris Drury. Other than Gaborik, of course the team still has Sean Avery and Derek Stepan who can do damage and newcomer Wojtek Wolski will be looking to impress.
Henrik Lundqvist had the shutout last night and as of now, I'm not sure if there has been an official announcement if he will go again tonight or if backup Martin Biron will get the call.
Marc Staal usually has a good game against his brother and that matchup is always worth keeping an eye on.
The Rangers are 5-4-1 in their last 10. For more information about them, check out our fine SBN partners in New York, The Blueshirt Banter.
These two teams have already met twice in NY so far this season and the Canes are 1-0-1, losing 2-1 in OT their last meeting.
For roster information that you can use at the rink, hockeymom's highly acclaimed Game Day Guide is ready for print.
FS Carolinas will have the action starting at 7. I will be chirping in live from the RBC in our Open Game Thread which starts up at 6:30.