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Carolina Hurricanes at NJ Devils: Changing Momentum

NEWARK, NJ - Eric Staal is grabbed in a headlock by rookie Adam Larsson of the New Jersey Devils during the last game the Canes played at the Prudential Center Oct 10, 2011.
NEWARK, NJ - Eric Staal is grabbed in a headlock by rookie Adam Larsson of the New Jersey Devils during the last game the Canes played at the Prudential Center Oct 10, 2011.

The Carolina Hurricanes (5-6-3) are in Newark tonight, for their second outing of the season vs Pete DeBoer's New Jersey Devils (6-5-1). Both teams have 13 points in the standings, tied for 10th in the Eastern Conference. The puck drops at 7:30 and will be aired on Versus. 

After two ugly losses at home, not to mention a similarly disturbing loss to the Flyers in Philadelphia the prior weekend, the frustration that began last spring, when the Canes missed the playoffs with a loss on the final day, is again coming to the fore. Many Carolina hockey fans [with echoes by some in the local press], are not shy about expressing their expectation that heads must roll whether that be via trade or firing. The organization is also voicing their concerns, with GM Jim Rutherford saying yesterday that "Changes need to be made," though typically, without the urgency felt by those on the outside looking in.

Given all that, maybe it's a good time for the team to get out of the local limelight and enjoy some obscurity in the New York area where the only hot button topic is whether Eric Staal feels guilty [enough] for the hit he put on Marc Staal last February. The incident eventually led to post- concussion symptoms for the Rangers top defenseman, keeping him out of action thus far in the new season. The Canes will be in the Madison Square Garden Friday night vs the Blueshirts before heading home to host the Penguins (and Staal brother #3) Saturday night.

The Hurricanes' 2011-12 record  for road games stands at 2-3-2.

With Jussi Jokinen still out, Zach Boychuk was practicing on the second line yesterday with Tuomo Ruutu at center and Alexei Ponikarovsky on the opposite wing. Drayson Bowman was on the LW of the 4th line, but he was reassigned to the Checkers as Zac Dalpe was recalled yesterday afternoon.

From practice this morning, we hear that Dalpe will step into that 4th line position, while Boychuk remains up with Ruutu.

It was Jamie McBain watching from up top on Sunday in the loss to Dallas, while Derek Joslin saw his first action in seven months. Other than the shutdown duo of Bryan Allen and Tim Gleason, the defensive pairings were scrambled following Friday's loss to the Capitals, with similar results vs the Stars. Today we hear that McBain will sit again, and Joslin and Tomas Kaberle will be the 5/6 pairing.  

12:35 UPDATE from @ice_chip - Early appearances were deceiving. Chip just updated earlier observations to say that Joslin will sit, and McBain goes back in. I've revised the D-pairings back to how they've looked for the majority of the season.

1:10 UPDATE: More on the choice of McBain vs Joslin, Staal's slump, Implications of Marc Staal's injury: Maurice post-practice today  [Audio - 4 minutes]. At the very end [3:37], asked by NY press how he feels about GM saying "changes will be made", he responds: This is not the first time I've been - "fired" or "fired up"  - what do you hear?

To summarize:

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

Bryan Allen - Tim Gleason
Joni Pitkanen - Jamie McBain
Tomas KaberleJay Harrison


Cam Ward will start in goal, with Brian Boucher on stand-by.

2011 - Cam Ward 11 631 5 4 30 2.85 340 310 .912 1


Before heading up to New Jersey yesterday, the Canes held a closed door meeting at practice. Chip Alexander covered that and other current topics in his story in this morning's N&O: Canes' Maurice not in early-season trouble - Chip Alexander,


New Jersey 

While it was Johan Hedberg in goal the last time the Canes were at the Prudential Center, tonight, it will be the very familiar face of Martin Brodeur in goal for the Devils. I'm guessing he won't miss Jussi Jokinen hovering near his crease this go around.

2011 - Martin Brodeur 4 200 1 2 11 3.30 86 75 .872 0

Injury notes from the Devils room:

It looks like Ilya Kovalchuk will remain on the sidelines with a pulled muscle which he says he strained while back-checking in the game vs the Flyers last week. (Is it just the mother in me who detects an "I told you so!" from Kovy on this?)

Forward Eric Boulton is also in the IR with a non-displaced fracture in his right hand. Centerman Jacob Josefson is out long term (which explains the pick up of familiar face Ryan Carter off the waiver wire 2 weeks ago). Two players in the Devils roster, Rod Pelley and Mark Fraser, were placed on waivers yesterday to make them available for reassignment to the AHL club in Albany. Finally, defenseman Andy Greene will be back after missing a couple games.

These were the lines practicing today:

Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - David Clarkson 
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus 
Matt Tedenby - Ryan Carter - Nick Palmieri 
Rod Pelley - Brad Mills - Cam Janssen

The Devils defensive squad will include Greene, Adam Larsson, Henrik TallinderMark FayneBryce Salvador, and Anton Volchenkov. Fraser will sit.

Other interesting storylines:

  • Adam Henrique is a 21-year old rookie center finding himself in a dream situation on the top line, and making the most of it. He was the hero Saturday night with 2 goals, including the OT winner when the Winnipeg Jets were in NJ over the weekend. DeBoer is impressed but commented yesterday that  "As a young guy, there's still details of the game that he has to continue to work at and we're going to continue to work with him at. But, like I said, he's been impressive offensively." 
  • Another rookie, Adam Larsson (pictured at the top) is continuing to shine as an 18-year old defenseman from Sweden. From the general tenor of the reports I've read, his remarkable work ethic and conditioning are only exceeded by his astounding hockey sense and flawless execution. (which is to say he's good at hockey)
  • Something else to note: the Devils have yet to surrender a powerplay goal at home. 


Links and previews

From Newark


Media notes

  • Both Jeff Skinner (2g, 2a) and Jay Harrison (3a) bring three-game point streaks. 
  • Eric Staal is pointless in five straight while he has won 62.3% of his faceoffs in that same span and shows a plus/minus of -7. The Canes are 2-3 in their last five games.
  • CAR point-per-game career players vs. NJ: Jeff Skinner - five points (4g, 1a) in five games.
  • Cam Ward is 6-10-2, with a 2.78 GAA in 18 career regular-season appearances against New Jersey. Brian Boucher is 4-5-3 with a 2.24 GAA in 13 games.
  • NJ point-per-game career players vs. CAR: Patrik Elias - 45 points (20g, 25a) in 45 games;  Nick Palmieri - five points (1g, 4a) in five games. He's not in the lineup tonight, but  Ilya Kovalchuk has put up 67 points (33g, 34a) in 54 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 is 13-7-2, 2.74 and two shutouts in 26 games.

Evening plans

As noted the game will be on Versus tonight, hence the 7:30pm start. John Forslund will be handling the play by play with Keith Jones filling in with color commentary. As always, Mike Maniscalco and Chuck Kaiton will be handling the radio coverage on 99.9. Look for our Canes Country Game Thread to open up at 7pm.