With the NHL trade deadline in the rearview mirror, the Carolina Hurricanes can now worry solely about their on-the-ice endeavors. GM Jim Rutherford did not move out any players yesterday, but Tuesday's opponent, the Nashville Predators, were among the league's busiest buyers during the annual swap meet.
Still, the Canes will have a slightly altered lineup due to injuries, but will also get Cam Ward back between the pipes.With Patrick Dwyer the latest out of the lineup with injuries, Carolina recalled Zach Boychuk for his first NHL stint since Kirk Muller took over behind the bench in November. As Muller has done with his other call-ups, Boychuk will get a chance to make his mark on a scoring line. He will start the night lined up with Jeff Skinner and Jussi Jokinen and, if the morning skate is any indication, get a look on the power play.
Ward returns after missing three-plus games with an undisclosed lower body injury. Ward left the Feb. 18 game on Long Island after two periods, and Justin Peters filled in admirably in his absence. But Ward is on a run five straight decisions in which Carolina got at least a point (3-0-2), so having him back in net should give the Hurricanes a boost.
Speaking of boosts, the Predators will get their first look at new acquisitions Paul Gaustad and Andrei Kostitsyn, who were acquired ahead of Monday's 3 p.m. trade deadline from Buffalo and Montreal, respectively. The cost for the two newcomers was steep — Gaustad in particular, as GM David Poile gave his 2012 first round pick to Buffalo in exchange for him — but the duo combines to add skill (Kostitsyn), plus size and grit (Gaustad) to a team looking to make a run at the Stanley Cup.
Coming off a 2-1 home win last night against the Kings, Pekka Rinne will get the night off. Carolina will face Anders Lindback, who will make just his seventh start of the season and is 2-6-0 with a 2.70 goals-against average and .897 save percentage. Lindback stopped 28 shots in a 5-2 win vs. the Canes on Dec. 5, 2010, his only career regular season action against Carolina.
• Carolina's lines will look similar, with the exception of the addition of Boychuk into the lineup and Ward manning the net:
Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Jerome Samson
Zach Boychuk - Jeff Skinner - Jussi Jokinen
Drayson Bowman - Brandon Sutter - Andreas Nodl
Anthony Stewart - Tim Brent - Derek Joslin
Tim Gleason - Bryan Allen
Jay Harrison - Justin Faulk
Jaroslav Spacek - Jamie McBain
• Staal is riding an eight-game point streak, registering 13 points (six goals, seven assists) during that stretch.
• Carolina is 10-2-3 in its last 15 games at the RBC Center.
• The Hurricanes are still down four players: Joni Pitkanen (knee), Brian Boucher (lower body), Chad LaRose (upper body) and Tuomo Ruutu (upper body).
• The game will be broadcast on 99.9 The Fan and televised by Fox Sports Carolinas, with pregame shows for both starting at 6:30 p.m. and action getting underway at 7 p.m.
• For the Nashville perspective, visit one of the blogosphere's best at On The Forecheck.