Tonight the Hurricanes (9-18-4) are in Toronto wrapping up a four game Canadian road trip to take on the Leafs (15-11-3) in the Air Canada Centre. They will do so without forward Jeff Skinner who was injured in the contest versus the Oilers and did not play versus the Jets. He reportedly had “flu-like symptoms” which have now turned into an undisclosed injury to be evaluated when he returns to North Carolina. Caniacs are hoping that he doesn’t have the same “virus” as Philadelphia’s Chris Pronger, as that has become code for “concussion.” Skinner’s absence leaves a huge hole in the offense and the Canes have called up forward Drayson Bowman from Charlotte.
Skinner is not the only one missing from the regular rotation. Solid blueliners Jay Harrison and Joni Pitkanen are still out with injuries and backup tendy Brian Boucher has been placed on injured reserve. Mike Murphy from the Checkers is still in Toronto backing up Cam Ward who was pulled in Friday’s contest against the Jets. Ward uncharacteristically lost his cool after heading to the bench, visibly showing his own frustration and the frustration that seems to be pervasive in the team. In related news, according to Chip Alexander from the News and Observer, the Canes will place goaltender Justin Peters on re-entry waivers, apparently to back up Ward for the game Thursday in Raleigh against the Canucks. Caniac Nation is holding its collective breath that no other team claims Peters off the waiver wire before noon tomorrow.
The Leafs will be without forward Matthew Lombardi who has an injured shoulder and defenseman Mike Komiserek who has a broken arm. Yes, the Leafs have actually gone so far as to note which upper body parts are injured. Novel concept!
These injuries in no way give the Hurricanes a break as Toronto will be showcasing Phil Kessel, the man that has only recently been knocked off his perch as number one points leader in the NHL. Kessel has eighteen goals and eighteen assists for the season and is sitting three points behind Claude Giroux of the Flyers. Those eighteen goals tie him with Steven Stamkos of the Lightning and Milan Michalek of the Senators. Joffrey Lupul is next in line for the Leafs with thirteen goals and twenty helpers. The Canes’ leader in points? Of course, it’s Jeff Skinner with twelve goals and twelve assists. Someone has to step up and fill those skates tonight. I nominate captain Eric Staal who has scored three goals and picked up six helpers in the last seven games. Staal became a dad for the second time last weekend. If you can’t start a streak for the Caniacs Staalsy do it for your new son, Levi John! (No pressure there captain.)
Normally I would be looking at lineups and keys to the game. I don’t have any confirmation of lines at this point. I only know that this will be our second chance to get a look at newly acquired d-man Jaroslav Spacek and see what he can bring to the blue line. Cam Ward is scheduled to be between the pipes. Young James Reimer will be in net for the Leafs. He is struggling a bit after returning from a six week absence due to his case of the “Pronger Flu.” My keys to the game don’t really involve the Leafs. Sure we need to stop Kessel, Lupol and keep Dion Phaneuf from knocking the daylights out of someone. But I think we mainly need to not beat ourselves. Play smart, play all sixty minutes, don’t take stupid penalties. And for goodness sakes give Cam Ward some help in front of the net. Draw on the 3-2 victory from the last meeting of the teams in November, and feel free to employ the power of prayer and/or voodoo. Ok, and please don’t let anyone else get hurt.
Puck drops at 7pm and the game is on Fox Sports Carolinas and 99.9 the Fan. Let’s Go Canes! (PLEASE). Now excuse me while I go decided what to do with James Reimer. He is one of my fantasy goalies.
Editor-In-Leaf is your FanSided source for all things Maple Leafs. For updates on the latest cases of the “Pronger Flu,” babies and sundry injuries, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: @cardiaccanefs, @esbee92, @caniac176, and @peacelovepuck.
Topics: Air Canada Centre, Chris Pronger, Claude Giroux, Dion Phaneuf, Eric Staal, Eric Staal Baby, James Reimer, Jaroslav Spacek, Jay Harrison, Jeff Skinner, Joffrey Lupol, Joni Pitkanen, Justin Peters, Levi John Staal, Matt Lombardi, Mike Komisarek, Mike Murphy, Milan Michalek, Ottawa Senators, Phil Kessel, Philadelphia Flyers, Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs