Hurricanes Record: 15-15-2, 32 pts. (2nd Southeast Division, 10th Eastern Conference)
Jets Record: 18-15-2, 38 pts. (1st Southeast Division, 3rd Eastern Conference)
Tonight's game is the third of four this season between the Hurricanes and the Jets. The Jets have a 2-0 record in the series, both played at PNC Arena, the latest a 4-1 victory just four nights ago. Since that time, the Hurricanes traveled to Toronto and posted a 6-3 loss to the Maple Leafs, while the Jets were shut out 4-0 by the Penguins in Pittsburgh (both Thursday night).
The Hurricanes are currently in 10th place in the Eastern Conference but have games in hand over most of the rivals above them in the standings, including three games in hand against the Jets.
Jiri Tlusty has the hot hand against the Jets this season, with three goals in the two previous match-ups. Meanwhile, his linemates Eric Staal and Alexander Semin chipped in two special teams goals Thursday night against the Maple Leafs, worth watching again [here] and [here].
It's been radio silence in terms of news from the team since the post-game presser Thursday night. There was no media available from a scheduled Canes practice on Friday in Toronto, if it was even held before the team flew in to Winnipeg Friday afternoon. There is also no pre-game skate scheduled today with the early start time.
John Forslund alluded to Jussi Jokinen (healthy scratch) returning to the line-up, and also mentioned that Dan Ellis (IR, knee) may be recovered enough to back up Justin Peters in net as early as today (source: Thursday pre-game radio interview on 99.9). Tripp Tracy also mentioned on Thursday's TV broadcast that Justin Faulk (knee) is skating and apears to be ahead of schedule.
Also out of the lineup: Cam Ward (IR, knee), Bobby Sanguinetti (IR, upperbody), Chad LaRose (flu symptoms)
Otherwise, here's how the team lined up on Thursday night:
Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Alexander Semin
Jeff Skinner - Jordan Staal - Tuomo Ruutu
Drayson Bowman - Riley Nash - Patrick Dwyer
Kevin Westgarth - Tim Brent - Adam Hall
Tim Gleason - Joe Corvo
Joni Pitkanen - Jamie McBain
Jay Harrison - Brett Bellemore
In the news, Chip Alexander/N&O published a feature on Jeff Skinner continuing to find his game after a concussion (his second) suffered earlier in the season [Canes' Skinner struggles for consistency].
The Hurricanes kept ex-teammate and Jets captain Andrew Ladd off the scoreboard Tuesday night, but they were not successful against perpetual Canes-killer Olli Jokinen (who scored the first goal and has 58 points in 57 career games versus the Canes). Evander Kane factored in every score for the Jets with a goal and three assists.
Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec got a rare game off as Al Montoya started against the Penguins Thursday night. Pavelec will be back in net tonight, and has a 2.02 GAA and .942 save percentage in his two previous starts versus the Hurricanes this season.
Injury status from Jets practice on Friday... Forward James Wright (upper body) practiced on Friday in a non-contact jersey and is still listed as day-to-day, along with defeseman Mark Stuart. Anthony Peluso (hand) and Jim Slater (hand) also skated but are listed as week-to-week. Nik Antropov and Ron Hainsey did not practice (maintenance day) but are in the line-up.
Jets depth chart (from team website):
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Olli Jokinen - Antti Miettinen
Eric Tangradi - Nik Antropov - Kyle Wellwood
Chris Thorburn - Alexander Burmistrov - Patrice Cormier
Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Ron Hainsey - Zach Bogosian
Grant Clitsome - Derek Meech
Illegal Curve has a compendium of Jets articles linked from their site [here]. Also of note, looks like the N&O's Chip Alexander will be joining their radio show today (show starts 9 am ET).
The open game thread will be ready at 2:30 pm. In the meantime, as a public service, some key in-arena information courtesy of the twitter account @MTSCentreChants ;)
Suggested chants for tonight's game:
Hang The Banner
Jets in 1st place
Our Kane's Better
That Was Easy (every time Jets score)
Ladd is better
Staals U Suck
Mark is Better
Flush the Canes! [here]
View the 2012-13 Southeast Division banner [here]