The Canes and Thrashers are neck and neck, each battling for the cherished eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. While both teams have 60 points, the Hurricanes have one more win and hold the tie breaker for now. Carolina also has a game in hand.
Both teams are just behind the seventh place New York Rangers, who currently have 62 points.
The Canes are going through a rough patch in their schedule and have a 1-3-2 record in their last six games. Today's contest is their second game of a current back-to-back, as well as their fourth game in six nights.
Atlanta has been home waiting for Carolina. Their last game was a Friday night win against the Rangers. Before that, they played in Toronto on Monday and lost to the Leafs, 5-4.
It goes without saying that this is another important game for both clubs.
The Hurricanes sent Zach Boychuk and Brett Sutter back to Charlotte this morning and recalled Zac Dalpe and Jerome Samson in their place. Sutter only had four minutes to prove himself and there was no reason given for Boychuk's demotion, but it seems like management was looking for more from him.
Samson is the Checkers leading scorer and has been the top scorer for the Hurricanes farm team for the past couple of years. This is his first NHL game of the season. Dalpe brings in a lot of speed as well as a decent shot, so the feeling is that the Canes are probably looking for more offense.
Although, how much can these two players provide if they get limited ice time? We will see.
The Canes depth chart has the lines as follows:
- Staal, Samsonov, Cole
- Ruutu, Skinner, LaRose
- Sutter, Tlusty, Dwyer
- Dalpe, Bodie, Samson
- Gleason, Corvo
- Pitkanen, McBain
- Harrison, White
Keep in mind, by the third period in last night's game the lines were completely mixed, so the lines listed above could be off. Also, the Hurricanes did not have a morning skate so the coaching staff's intentions were not shown at that time.
Speaking of the morning skate, we do not know who will be starting in net for Carolina. Will Cam Ward get a break, or will Justin Peters get his first start since January 9? Peters did get some action in relief since that date, but still has not seen action since the All Star break and is liable to be rusty.
The last time these two teams met, it was an overtime win for the Canes at the RBC. It will most likely be another tight one today. The winner of this game will take over eighth place, at least for another day.
The Canes are 3-0 so far this season against Atlanta, (two OT wins and a SO win). They have a 6-1-0 record in their last seven games against this team.
There is no local television for this one. We'll have our open game thread cranked up and ready to go at 4:30 and those who are watching will provide as much commentary as possible. NHL Center Ice will have the game and Chuck Kaiton will also have the play by play on 99.9 The Fan.