The Hurricanes will be without the services of versatile forward, Jussi Jokinen, who is projected to be out a week or two as he nurses a lower body injury. Jokinen had been red hot of late and had 12 points in his last nine games.
Zach Boychuk has been recalled again to take his place.
But before anyone sheds tears because of the untimely loss of Jokinen, check out what Boychuk has been able to accomplish. While the young winger has just seven points, (4G 3A) in his 18 games, the Hurricanes have a 10-6-2 record when he is in the lineup.
What's even more significant? The team is 8-3-2 when he plays 10 minutes or more.
Certainly, that's not to say that the success or failure of the team rides squarely on Boychuk's back, but the team does seem to have more jump and more speed when he is on one of the top lines. According to the Hurricanes depth chart, Boychuk will be starting out on Brandon Sutter's line.
The lines for the Canes could start out like this:
- Staal, Cole, Samsonov
- Ruutu, Skinner, LaRose
- Sutter, Tlusty, Boychuk
- Carter, Dwyer, Bodie
- Gleason, Corvo
- Pitkanen, McBain
- Harrison, White
Cam Ward will start in net for the Canes. He'll be facing James Reimer at the other end of the rink. Reimer is a promising youngster who has the best GAA and save percentage on the Maple Leafs team.
|2010 - Cam Ward||44||2506||22||16||113||2.71||1401||1288||.919||2|
|2010 - James Reimer||8||429||4||3||16||2.24||239||223||.933||0|
Toronto is led by upstart Clarke MacArthur, who is having a career season. MacArthur also appears to be the leader regarding locker room talk as he seemed to be one of the most vocal about an altercation between Tim Gleason and Nikolai Kulemin during the last game in Raleigh.
If we remember, Kulemin was trying to be aggressive and was messing with the Carolina defenseman by knocking him in the face repeatedly. Gleason finally had enough and dropped his gloves and popped the Russian, bloodying his nose and sending him to the showers.
Gleason was given a misconduct and was removed from the game.
MacArthur had big talk after the game.
James Mirtle from the Globe and Mail got this quote:
"I think Kulie just went in there to stick up for teammates. Gleason obviously isn't that smart, so it was pretty cheap. Kulie didn't drop his gloves and you know he gets suckered like that. I don't know...he's not a fighter. Gleason knows he's not a fighter. We've got a couple more games here so we'll see. Obviously we want to come back hard against these guys so we'll see what happens."
Of course that is right after the heat of battle. But given time to think about it, MacArthur is still talking. This quote is from TSN yesterday.
"I wouldn't pass up a hit on him that's for sure," Leafs forward Clarke MacArthur said ahead of Thursday's contest (TSN, 7pm et/4pm pt). "I don't think anyone will after what he did. He's a hard-nosed player and we want to play him hard."
In the meantime, MacArthur dropped the gloves with Chad LaRose in that same game, the smallest player on the Hurricanes roster and another player who is not necessarily known as being a fighter. The difference? LaRose also dropped his gloves.
We'll see what happens, but more often than not, both teams and their players concentrate more on winning than evening out any perceived injustices from previous matchups. Either way, Gleason is not losing any sleep over it.
The new dad just had a baby girl less than 48 hours ago and he might not be in a fighting mood, although he's never been shy about sticking up for himself.
Coach Ron Wilson says today that the best revenge is getting the two points. James Mirtle has more:
Apparently, some Leaf fans are feeling a bit sorry for themselves after taking a perceived public beatdown over the All Star Weekend. First of all, how could there possibly be so many hockey fans down South and how could some respected media types be saying it was the best All Star Weekend ever? Is this Bizarro World?
That news alone is enough to put any Canadian in a bad mood.
But then to have Toronto franchise player, Phil Kessel chosen last in the All Star Fantasy Draft, (as Canadian boy Eric Staal threw a barb Toronto's way), that's just more than most Leaf fans can take.
Does everyone really hate Toronto? Pension Plan Puppets wants to know.
James Mirtle has Toronto's lines as follows:
MacArthur - Grabovski - Kulemin
Crabb - Bozak - Kessel
Versteeg - Boyce - Armstrong
Rosehill - Brent - Sjostrom
Beauchemin - Phaneuf
Kaberle - Schenn
Gunnarsson - Komisarek
For more, check out the Globe and Mail's Leafs Beat.
Back to the Canes. Joe Corvo has a six game point streak, (2G 5A). Erik Cole has points in three straight.
The Hurricanes are 2-0 so far this season against the Leafs and have won 11 of the last 14 contests between the two teams.
Eric Staal, (27 points in 24 games), Tuomo Ruutu, (14 points in 12 games), and Jeff Skinner, (two goals in two games), are career point a game players against Toronto.
If the Canes win and Atlanta loses, Carolina finally jumps into eighth place. The Thrashers play the Flames tonight.
FS Carolinas will have the broadcast starting at 7 p.m.