Today began the Kirk Muller era for the Carolina Hurricanes as they took to the ice this morning to prepare for tonight’s battle against the Florida Panthers. The Canes and Panthers last met in March of 2011 in the RBC Center where the Canes came out on top 2-1. But these are not the Panthers of old. The Panthers sit atop the Southeast Conference with a 12-7-4 record and have totally revamped their program under new head coach, and the first guy to serve as the captain of the Carolina Hurricanes, Kevin Dineen.
The Panthers come to town with a 7-5-0 record on the road, and the Canes are 5-6-2 in their own barn. I would like to throw out some positive statistics, but the Hurricanes have lost ten of their last thirteen games. I am hoping that tomorrow we are looking back on a win.
Look for some dangerous Panthers aiming for the net as right winger Kris Versteeg has twelve goals and fourteen helpers so far. He is complimented on the left side by Tomas Fleischmann with ten goals and thirteen assists. If that wasn’t enough to worry about, the defense is anchored by former Blackhawk Brian Campbell who has seventeen helpers for the season. Jose Theodore (9-4-3) is likely to get the nod in net and Cam Ward (10-8-3) is expected to be between the pipes for the Canes.
A new coach brings change, but it is unknown what sort of lines he will be putting together for tonight’s contest. Jeff Skinner is still the Hurricanes top scorer with nine goals, twelve helpers and twenty-one points. Tuomo Ruutu is next in line in the goal department with seven and Jussi Jokinen is second in helpers with eleven. Captain Eric Staal only has five goals, six assists and eleven points. Fans and the Hurricanes organization are hoping the captain can get his season back on track and remind us why he is one of the elite players in the NHL. Jeff Skinner needs some company at the top and it would be nice to get someone else in double-digits in the goal department.
In addition to a new coach, the Hurricanes also picked up a new player today. Andreas Nodl was claimed off of waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers. The Austrian has played eleven contests for the Flyers and picked up a goal and an assist this season. No word whether he will be here for tonight’s game. For a Flyer’s fan’s take on our newest acquisition, visit our sister site Broad Street Buzz. I will warn you, Eugene’s farewell is quite enthusiastic.
Spirits were reportedly high in practice this morning with the coach and the injured Jay Harrison, getting a warm welcome from the team. Coach Muller was seen having a talk with captain Staal and they were apparently gesturing with their hands. I like to imagine they were doing the hand jive.
Yes my spirits are silly today, but I am trying to be optimistic and hoping we can get a fresh start for the rest of the season. While I would love to win tonight, I really just want to see the team be competitive and leave it all on the ice for the coach, the fans and themselves.
We will update you with any lineup information when we get it. For more information on the competition, head over to our sister site, The Rat Trick where Frank and company will keep you up to date from the Panthers’ side.
Puck drops at 7pm. Most importantly, Let’s Go Canes!
Updated: 5:30PM. Nodl has arrived in time for the game. Brett Sutter reassigned to Charlotte Checkers. http://hurricanes.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=603830
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Tags: Brian Campbell Cam Ward Eric Staal Florida Panthers Fresh Start Hand Jive Jay Harrison Jeff Skinner Jose Theodore Jussi Jokinen Kevin Dineen Kirk Mullen Kris Versteeg Tomas Fleischmann Tuomo Ruutu