Hurricanes Record: 9-10-5 (23 pts.)
Devils Record: 9-10-5 (23 pts.)
Tonight is the first of four meetings this season and first of two games this week between the Hurricanes and Metro division rival New Jersey Devils. After playing tonight in Newark, the Canes will fly home and enjoy a nice turkey dinner with family, and then do it all over again here at PNC on Friday night.
The two teams are evenly matched in the standings, with exactly the same 9-10-5 record through 24 games. Both teams have struggled to find the back of the net and rank in the bottom five in the NHL in goals per game. But in typical fashion, while the Devils don't generate a lot of offense (last in league in shots taken/game), they don't allow a lot of offense either. They rank eighth in the league in goals allowed per game, second in shots against per game, and they have the second-best penalty kill.
After Sunday's win the Canes took Monday off and resumed practice yesterday before heading out of town. There were only a couple of line-up changes from Sunday's game. Forward lines stayed the same with the exception of Riley Nash centering Jeff Skinner and Elias Lindholm, with Radek Dvorak moving to Manny Malhotra's line. On defense, Tim Gleason did not practice and it was later determined he is suffering a lower body injury and is expected to be out a week. He is not on the trip to New Jersey.
Kevin Westgarth was issued a two-game suspension by the NHL yesterday for boarding Ottawa Senators player Mark Borowiecki in Sunday's game. Westgarth will miss both games against the Devils.
Alexander Semin (IR, concussion, missed 4 games) and Anton Khudobin (IR, ankle, missed 18 games) remain out with injuries.
Projected line-up based on yesterday's practice:
Tuomo Ruutu - Eric Staal - Jiri Tlusty
Nathan Gerbe - Jordan Staal - Patrick Dwyer
Jeff Skinner - Riley Nash - Elias Lindholm
Drayson Bowman - Manny Malhotra - Radek Dvorak
Andrej Sekera - Justin Faulk
Ron Hainsey - Brett Bellemore
Jay Harrison - Ryan Murphy
Bunch of Canes-related news links this week for your reading and listening pleasure:
- Kirk Muller from yesterday's practice [audio link]
- Practice Notes - Gleason out, Semin feeling better [N&O]
- Kevin Westgarth suspension explained by NHL Department of Player Safety [video]
- Andrej Sekera finds his offensive groove [CH.com]
- Hurricanes benefit from ripple effect from players that have stepped up [N&O]
- Much ado about Ruutu, as player and coach meet to "work it out" [N&O]
- Cam Ward is getting his groove back [NHL.com] [N&O] and Brian Burke says he should be back in consideration for Sochi [Calgary Sun]
- Eric Staal is on a six-game points streak, and he's glad to have his legs back (and his goalie) [NHL Live]
- Jim Rutherford gives a state of the Canes [HNIC Radio]
- Kerry Fraser weighs in on the missed slashing call on Jiri Tlusty [TSN]
- Trade winds are swirling around the Canes [TSN] [ESPN]
And vis-à-vis Hurricanes milestones, congratulations to veteran broadcaster Chuck Kaiton as he calls radio broadcast number 3,000 tonight.
The Devils started off the season slowly, winless in their first seven, but they have steadily improved and are 6-3-1 in their last ten games. They come into tonight's game having lost their last two, and goal scoring has been the issue, with only one regulation goal in their last three games.
There's a familiar face at the top of the Devils' scoring stats. Veteran Jaromir Jagr was a late free agency addition to the Devils' roster, and he leads the team in scoring with 18 points (9 goals, 9 assists). Jagr has played in 74 career games against the Hurricanes and has 106 points, so as always he is a player to watch in tonight's matchup.
Along with Jagr, keep an eye on Patrik Elias, another perpetual Canes-killer with 52 points in 51 career games. Elias has five points in his last six games after being activated from IR on November 15th.
Defenseman Jon Merrill was recalled from Albany on Monday due to an injury to Adam Larsson and will be playing in only his third NHL game tonight. He has not registered a point yet in his NHL career.
In addition to Larsson (lower body), the Devils will be without the services of Bryce Salvador (foot), Anton Volchenkov (lower body), Ryane Clowe (concussion), and Stephen Gionta (ankle).
After five straight wins, Martin Brodeur has lost the last two games, so it's possible the Canes will see Cory Schneider in net tonight. Schneider is 2-5-3 on the season with 1 shutout, a 1.87 GAA, and .925 save percentage. He's 1-1-0 in two previous games against the Canes. Brodeur is 7-5-2 with 2 shutouts, 2.06 GAA, and .916 save percentage for the season.
After Monday night's game [recap from Fire & Ice blog], the Devils took yesterday off and there was no media availability. Here's how they lined up in Monday's game:
Dainius Zubrus - Travis Zajac - Jaromir Jagr
Damien Brunner - Patrik Elias - Steve Bernier
Adam Henrique - Andrei Loktionov - Michael Ryder
Ryan Carter - Jacob Josefson - Cam Janssen
Andy Greene - Marek Zidlicky
Eric Gelinas - Mark Fayne
Jon Merrill - Peter Harrold
We'll have the open game thread ready to roll at 6:30 pm. See you there.