The Atlanta Thrashers, (22-16-6) are in town to take on the Carolina Hurricanes, (19-15-6) in a rare Sunday afternoon contest at the RBC. There is only one more Sunday game on the schedule this season and that is against Buffalo, on April 3.
Both of these teams are a bit banged up and are missing players. The Thrashers are without the services of Evander Kane, Jim Slater, and Fredrik Modin. Ben Eager was just suspended for four games and he will also be missing. A couple of recalls have been made from their affiliate, the Chicago Wolves.
The Canes were hoping for the return of Jussi Jokinen and Joni Pitkanen for this game, but Jokinen will remain out. Pitkanen's wife was in labor early Saturday and his status for the game is uncertain.
Jiri Tlusty was put on the injured reserved list and Ryan Carter is out, but is day-to-day.
Paul Maurice also mentioned after Saturday's practice that Cam Ward was less than 100% and will be a game time decision. "Less than 100%" was not defined, so the media does not know if the goalie just isn't feeling well or if it's an ailment of some type.
Atlanta was shell shocked in their last game on Friday night against Toronto, 9-3. Goalies were switched in and out of the game, so no one is sure who coach Craig Ramsay will start against the Canes. It's another tidbit that will have to wait until Sunday. Although, my guess would be that Ondrej Pavelec will get the nod.
Pavelec has been one of the big reasons that the Thrashers have gotten off to such a great start.
#31 / Goalie / Atlanta Thrashers
Aug 31, 1987
|2010 - Ondrej Pavelec||30||1690||15||9||64||2.27||943||879||.932||2|
Cam Ward has been hot for the Canes and in his last 19 games, has compiled a .939 save percentage.
#30 / Goalie / Carolina Hurricanes
Feb 29, 1984
|2010 - Cam Ward||34||1954||17||11||83||2.55||1108||1025||.925||2|
Atlanta is led in scoring by Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, and team captain, Andrew Ladd.
|2010 - Dustin Byfuglien||44||16||25||41||8||45||6||0||6||177|
|2010 - Tobias Enstrom||44||8||28||36||5||24||5||0||0||63|
|2010 - Andrew Ladd||44||14||21||35||-4||14||4||2||1||100|
Eric Staal continues to lead the Hurricanes and has points in four consecutive games. Tuomo Ruutu has been outstanding in the last month and not only leads the team in hits, (2nd in the NHL), but he is now tied for second in scoring with rookie, Jeff Skinner.
|2010 - Eric Staal||40||20||20||40||-5||34||7||1||4||148|
|2010 - Jeff Skinner||40||13||18||31||0||12||2||0||1||102|
|2010 - Tuomo Ruutu||40||9||22||31||-3||26||4||0||1||71|
Just how good is Skinner?
I remember watching Staal play as an 18-year-old in his rookie season and everyone could tell that he was going to be a very special player. Skinner just tied Staal's rookie year stats, (11G 20A 31P), and this season is not quite half way over.
The future is very bright for Carolina as a couple of other youngsters, Zac Dalpe and Zach Boychuk, have stepped right in and have made important contributions as well.
Believe it or not, the Hurricanes powerplay has moved up and is now ranked 21st in the league at 16.6%. The penalty kill is also improving and is ranked 23td overall at 79.4%.
The Canes are 4-0-2 in their last six games and 5-3-2 in their last 10.
If you would like to print a roster to bring with you to the game, HM's Game Guide is a wonderful thing.
Montreal won a barn-burner last night, so the team is back to being five points out of a playoff spot. This is another important game.
There will be no local TV, so find a good feed of Center Ice somewhere or listen to Chuck on 99.9 for this one. The puck drops at 1:30. I will be Tweeting from press row and will be chirping in with insight on our Open Game Thread.