Carolina Hurricanes vs Ottawa Senators
Friday, February 1, 2013 - 7:00 pm EST
PNC Arena - Raleigh, NC
TV - Fox Sports Carolinas HD Radio - 99.9 The Fan
Tailgate forecast: High 38 / Low 23
Hurricanes Record: 2-3-0, 4 pts.
Senators Record: 5-1-1, 11 pts.
Tonight marks the first of three meetings this season between the Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senators. The two teams split their series evenly last year with 2-1-1 records that included a home and away win for each team. The Hurricanes last played on Monday night and lost 5-3 at home against the Boston Bruins. Meanwhile, the Senators played in back-to-back home games on Tuesday (Washington Capitals) and Wednesday (Montreal Canadiens), winning both.
The Hurricanes have been treated to the luxury of an unusual four day break between games. General manager Jim Rutherford used the break to make a few tweaks to the lineup, recalling forward Andreas Nodl, and going at risk placing forward Zach Boychuk on waivers, where he was grabbed by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Boychuk, who had been a healthy scratch since game one against Florida, was gracious in his goodbyes to the Hurricanes and Charlotte Checkers organizations on twitter and in his comments to the N&O's Chip Alexander in an interview on Thursday.
If recent history versus the Senators is any indication, the Hurricanes will miss not having Tuomo Ruutu in the lineup tonight. Ruutu scored three goals against the Senators last year, including two game winners. Chip Alexander also caught up with Tuomo Wednesday for an update on his recovery from hip surgery (read here). The good news is that rehab has begun and Ruuty remains positive (as if anyone expected otherwise). The bad news is there is still no estimated time frame for his return.
Here's an enjoyable statistic: Alexander Semin has 24 points in 20 games versus Ottawa. Sasha is two goals shy of 200 career NHL goals.
There are a few streaks in play heading into tonight's game. Jordan Staal has points in four straight games, Jeff Skinner has goals in four straight games, Eric Staal has points in three straight games, and Tim Gleason has fighting majors in two straight games.
Chad LaRose missed practice earlier in the week after suffering from a freak allergic reaction, but will be back in his normal spot on the roster.
Justin Faulk continues to recover from his upper body injury. He rested on Tuesday, wore a no-contact jersey on Wednesday, and participated in a full practice Thursday. If all goes well with today's morning skate, he should be back in the lineup tonight and whatnot.
The Hurricanes will follow up this game with a quick trip to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers tomorrow night. With the back-to-back scenario, there's a chance one game will see Dan Ellis in net, although the coaching staff hasn't tipped its hand in that regard. So for now expect to see Cam Ward, with a 10-7-1 record and one shutout in 19 career appearances against the Senators. Ellis has one appearance, a win, against the Senators.
Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Alexander Semin
Jeff Skinner - Jordan Staal - Zac Dalpe
Drayson Bowman - Jussi Jokinen - Chad LaRose
Patrick Dwyer - Tim Brent - Kevin Westgarth/Andreas Nodl
Tim Gleason - Justin Faulk (if cleared to play, otherwise Jay Harrison)
Joni Pitkanen - Jamie McBain
Jay Harrison - Joe Corvo
Out of line-up: Tuomo Ruutu (injured non-roster, hip)
The Ottawa Senators have earned their spot near the top of the Eastern Conference standings with balanced performance throughout their lineup. They've enjoyed goal scoring from 13 different players, and goaltender Craig Anderson has been lights out, posting a .99 GAA and .967 save percentage through six games.
The Senators will need that balanced scoring as they will be without the services of forward Jason Spezza. Yesterday the team announced that Spezza will have back surgery today to repair a herniated disc and is out indefinitely. Spezza's production will be difficult to replace, especially his role as a perpetual Canes-killer, registering 37 points in 31 career games against Carolina.
Nineteen-year-old center Mika Zibanejed, the sixth overall draft pick in 2011, was called up on Tuesday to replace Spezza and logged an assist against the Capitals, then followed up by notching his first NHL goal against the Canadiens Wednesday night.
There really is no need to point out, once again, that defending Norris trophy winner Erik Karlsson was drafted 15th overall in the 2008 NHL draft, one spot behind Zach Boychuk. So I won't.
After missing Wednesday's game against Montreal, defenseman Sergei Gonchar is expected to be back in the line-up.
The Senators have a new slogan: In Andy We Trust. They are riding the hot hand as they put their faith in Craig Anderson between the pipes. Anderson comes into PNC Arena with a 4-1-3 record and 2.80 GAA in eight career games against Carolina. Anderson's backup, Ben Bishop, has not faced the Hurricanes.
Milan Michalek -
Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Guillaume Latendresse - Peter Regin - Jakob Silfverberg
Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Jim O'Brien - Mika Zibanejad - Erik Condra
Marc Méthot - Erik Karlsson
Chris Phillips - Sergei Gonchar
Patrick Wiercioch - Andre Benoit
Cam Ward is not off to the kind of season start he (or anyone) would relish. Michael Smith caught up with Ward for some candid comments on his performance so far: Season of Adjustment for Ward.
Meanwhile, The Hockey News offers its own evaluation of the Canes' goalie: Where does Cam Ward rank?
TSN's Player Rankings are out, and six Canes make a splash high in the rankings, including a visit by the captain to the top ten.
Michael Smith breaks down the first month off this odd season in his Tracking the Storm January 2013 Monthly Report .
From Thursday's practice: Kirk Muller audio
And last but not least, Rink Links with Tim Brent, Jamie McBain, and Jeff Skinner. In which Canesvision's Amber Sersen get the skinny on Skinner's early goal-scoring success... is it the flow? (watch here)
Brian will have more analysis on our opponent later in the day, and we'll start the game thread at 6:30 pm. See you at the rink.