The Columbus Blue Jackets travel to the RBC Center today to take on the Hurricanes in the Canes final pre-season home game before they wrap up their preseason tomorrow night against the Nashville Predators. The Canes will then have about a week off before they open up the regular season against the Tampa Bay Lightning next Friday. Expect a more veteran squad for both teams, as the Canes made several roster cuts yesterday after the team’s game against Winnipeg. You can catch up on the latest round of cuts in Sally Brown’s review of the Jets game here. The Blue Jackets are coming off of a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild last night, where Steve Mason went the full 60 minutes to pick up the win after stopping 32 of 34 shots. With Mason going the full game, I would think that back-up Curtis Sanford will get the start tonight. Columbus’ roster is set, so whoever plays tonight will most likely be the players that they carry into the regular season, as this is their final pre-season game. To read up on the Blue Jackets, visit Fire That Cannon.
It will be interesting to see how the defensive core looks for the Canes tonight. It was reported by Chip Alexander of the News & Observer (twitter: @ice_chip) that Ryan Murphy will get the full 9 games to prove himself in the league before the coaches and General Manager Jim Rutherford decide whether or not to send him down to Kitchner or have him stay up with the big boys. Mike Maniscalco of 99.9FM the Fan also said that head coach Paul Maurice hinted that the team might carry 9 (yes, nine) defensemen into the regular season. These nine defensemen include: Bryan Allen, Justin Faulk, Tim Gleason, Jay Harrison, Joni Pitkanen, Derek Joslin, Tomas Kaberle, Jamie McBain and Ryan Murphy. The forward spots have pretty much been set, but expect Riley Nash, who has been the biggest surprise of camp, to get playing time tonight and potentially tomorrow at Nashville as Tuomo Ruutu continues to not play for precautionary reasons. Ruutu did practice yesterday and centered a line with Jussi Jokinen (who is our Feature Friday today) and Jeff Skinner. I have not seen word on whether Chad LaRose will play tonight, but Patrick Dwyer did play about 15 minutes during the game against Winnipeg. Expect Cam Ward to get the start in net tonight, but no decision has been made as to who will start tomorrow against Nashville.
UPDATE: Per @ice_chip, Nash, Murphy, McBain and Joslin will sit out tonight. This most likely means Ruutu will get some playing time and will play with Skinner and Jokinen. This also means that Faulk will be in, along with the other 5 ‘core’ defensemen (Pitkanen, Allen, Gleason, Harrison, Kaberle).