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Carolina Hurricanes at New Jersey Devils: Third time a charm?

The Carolina Hurricanes are in Newark, NJ today for an unusual Columbus Day matinee vs the Devils. Game time is 1pm.

Neither team has won yet this season. The Hurricanes (0-1-1) put together a strong effort in Washington vs the Capitals Saturday night losing in overtime. Carolina was embarrassed in the season opener Friday night, losing to Tampa Bay by a score of 5-1.

Today's game is the Canes third outing of the new season, and the third in less than 72 hours. It's the first match-up against a team that also failed to make the playoffs last season. Will the third time be the charm and put them in the win column? If they can sustain the pace and pressure for a full 60 minutes like they did Saturday night and of course cut down on the penalties, I sure like their chances.

New Jersey (0-1) opened their season Saturday night at home, disappointing the fans as they were shut out by Ilya Bryzgalov and the Flyers to the tune of 3-0. Martin Brodeur was the losing goaltender. It was reported yesterday that back-up Johan Hedberg would be starting this afternoon vs the Canes.

The Canes will not skate this morning before the game. We were told over the weekend that Cam Ward would return to the pipes today. New backup Brian Boucher made his debut for the team vs the Caps Saturday. A look at the possible line combinations and other notes on both rosters after the jump.

No doubt the biggest question for Canes fans the last few days is the forward line combinations. This lively debate is joined by questions surrounding the team choosing to carry 9 defensemen on a roster, if the plan is to scratch the same three, Ryan Murphy most of all, after a losing effort in the first 2 games.

We got our answer on today's line up from John Forslund early this morning:

Twitter / @JohnForslund: Good morning from Short Hills, NJ. Canes will go with same line up today vs. Devs. Ward in goal. Hurricanes Live at 1230 et on FSC!

Regarding the forwards, if we base our assumptions on the third period of Saturday's game, Coach Paul Maurice would start today's game with:

Jeff Skinner - Eric Staal - Chad LaRose
Tuomo Ruutu - Jussi Jokinen - Anthony Stewart
Patrick Dwyer - Brandon Sutter - Alexei Ponikarovsky
Jiri Tlusty - Tim Brent - Zac Dalpe

Or, of course, he could have something entirely different in mind and shuffle again.

For the defensemen, the starting six for the first two games were paired this way:

Joni Pitkanen - Tim Gleason
Tomas Kaberle - Justin Faulk
Bryan Allen - Jay Harrison

And, yes, it seems defensemen Jamie McBain, Derek Joslin and 18-year-old Ryan Murphy are slated to sit out their third game in a row.

What's new in Jersey?

After the team failed to make the playoffs last spring for the first time since 1996, quite a bit, actually:

  • Coach Pete DeBoer surprised many when he was hired to replace the venerable Jacques Lemaire behind the bench. DeBoer is most recently the coach for the Florida Panthers and was let go when his contract expired last spring. He is also a long time friend of Paul Maurice, but it seems they may not be as close as they once were.
  • The Devils named a new Captain last week. Zach Parise, another member of that blessedly talented draft class of 2003. Parise missed most of last season with a knee injury and, with just a one-year contract signed over the summer, he has 82 games to earn himself a high-dollar payday next summer as a UFA. Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias remain as the Devils' Alternates.
  • How about a recycling project of their own with Petr Sykora signed just before the season started? A first round pick by the Devils in 1995, the 34 year old Czech native spent last season in the KHL, and part of the previous season in the Czech League. He was invited back for a tryout with the Devils in September and was signed October 5th to a one-year $650,000 deal. The winger was on the top line with Parise and Elias in the season debut Saturday. One added note on this: none of those three is listed as a center.
  • Among the Devils' rookies, we might want to pay close attention to 18-year-old Adam Larsson who was drafted out of the Swedish Elite League in June. The defenseman was selected by the Devils 4th overall in St Paul. According to scouting reports over at Hockeys Future, Larsson models his game after Nicklas Lidstrom and the comparisons are well-earned.
  • Here's what to expect to see in the Devil's lines, per Rick Chere at the Star-Ledger.
  • Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - Petr Sykora
    Ilya Kovalchuk - Jacob Josefson - Nick Palmieri
    Mattias Tedenby- Dainius Zubrus - David Clarkson
    Adam Henrique - Brad Mills - Eric Boulton

    Notable stats

  • Jeff Skinner now has 4 points in 2 games, and has been involved in all 4 of the Canes goals so far this season. On Saturday, he had a career-high three assists at Washington.
  • Carolina has scored the first goal of the game in each of its first two contests this season, posting a 0-1-1 record. The Hurricanes were 28-5-4 when scoring first in 2010-11.
  • Looking at the history between the two teams:

  • CAR point-per-game career players vs. NJ: Zac Dalpe - 1g in 1 game Tuomo Ruutu - 15 pts (7g, 8a) in 15 games; Jeff Skinner - 4g in 4 games; Tomas Kaberle - 32 pts (5g, 27a) in 43 games.
  • NJ point-per-game career players vs. CAR: Matthew Corrente - 2a in 2 games; Patrik Elias - 44 pts (20g, 24a) in 44 games; Ilya Kovalchuk - 64 pts (32g, 32a) in 53 games.
  • Cam Ward is 6-9-2, with a 2.76 GAA in 17 career regular-season appearances against New Jersey. Brian Boucher: 4-5-1, 2.24 in 11 games.
  • Martin Brodeur is 35-14-6 with a 2.07 GAA and eight shutouts in 56 career games against the Carolina franchise. Johan Hedberg: 12-7-2, 2.77 and two shutouts in 25 games.
  • Broadcast information

    The game will be carried on Fox Sports Carolinas with John Forslund, Tripp Tracy and newcomer Bob Harwood. Their new 30-minute pregame show begins at 12:30pm.

    Radio coverage will be available on 99.9 the Fan, also beginning at 12:30. Chuck Kaiton will have the call and Mike Maniscalco will do the pre- and post-game shows. If you're out of the Raleigh area, you can stream 99.9 here.

    For more on the game from the Devils perspective, I recommend the fabulous In Lou We Trust blog from John Fischer & Co. or the SBN page dedicated to Hurricanes vs Devils: Gameday. For newspaper coverage, both Fire & Ice from The Record and the Star Ledger are great resources for the latest news.

    We'll have our gamethread up at 12:30. Please stop by and join me if you can. For those who don't have access to a television or radio at this time of day, I'll use the thread to keep you up with the action or answer questions.