Hurricanes Record: 9-8-1, 19 pts. (1st SE Division, 3rd Eastern Conference)
Penguins Record: 13-7-0, 26 pts. (1st Atlantic Division, 2nd Eastern Conference)
Weird... Awkward... These are a couple of the words used to describe the feelings of Jordan Staal and Brandon Sutter when asked about facing their former teams for the first time as the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at the PNC Arena.
Both skaters have been productive for their teams and no one is complaining about the blockbuster trade, yet. But the Hurricanes gave up much more than just Sutter to unite the brothers Staal. Brian Dumoulin, the top rated defenseman in the Canes system also went to Pittsburgh, as well as the eighth overall pick in last year's draft.
The final results of this trade won't be known for several years to come but in the meantime, this is a special night for both players as they face their former mates and good friends for the first time.
Putting aside the feel good, personal stuff, the Hurricanes need to win a hockey game tonight. The team has a losing record at home that they need to rectify, (3-4-0) if they still have plans to make the playoffs. The Pens play well on the road, (8-3-0) so it will not be easy.
The good news is, according to various Twitter reports, (Chip Alexander and Michael Smith) many of the walking wounded were at the morning skate today. Jeff Skinner was back on the ice, as was Tim Gleason, Jamie McBain, Joni Pitkanen, and Tim Brent.
Ryan Murphy and Jeremy Welsh were not on the ice, so it can be assumed Murphy was returned to Kitchener and Welsh was reassigned to Charlotte.
The lines at the skate this morning were:
Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Alexander Semin
Jeff Skinner - Jordan Staal - Chad LaRose
Patrick Dwyer - Riley Nash - Jussi Jokinen
Drayson Bowman - Tim Brent - Tim Wallace
Zac Dalpe and Kevin Westgarth will be scratched.
Tim Gleason - Bobby Sanguinetti
Justin Faulk - Jay Harrison
Joe Corvo - Jamie McBain
Joni Pitkanen and Michal Jordan will be scratched.
Cam Ward will be the starter in net. Ward is 11-5-3 lifetime against the Pens. Marc-Andre Fleury has a 7-5-3 career record against Carolina.
The Canes had the day off yesterday, (they did not practice on the ice) so they should be well rested. The team looked tired at times at Washington and Kirk Muller said that fatigue was a factor, in that they had played three games in four nights. There is no time to rest in this schedule though as the team has another three games in four nights because they have a back-to-back against the Panthers this weekend.
Also keep in mind that the Pens claimed Zach Boychuk off of the waiver wire, stealing him before he could be returned to Charlotte. It will be interesting to see if Zach is in the lineup. The winger has played in seven games so far for his new team and has yet to dent the scoresheet.
For information about the Pens, be sure to check out PensBurgh. Yesterday, they posted an article indicating that Jordan Staal has pretty much played the same role for Carolina that he did in Pittsburgh.
More importantly, Evgeni Malkin is out for them.
Sidney Crosby is killing it for his team and has 30 points in 20 games.
Brian will have his three questions with the Pens posted shortly and as always, we will have our open thread ready for discussion at 6:30.