The Buds are back in town again for the third meeting of these two teams this season. So far each team has won a contest at home. The Hurricanes come into the game with a 12-20-6 record and are coming off a loss to the Pittsburg Penguins. The Leafs stand at 18-14-4 and are coming to town after a 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. In other words, both teams are hungry for a win. The Leafs have forty points, ten points ahead of our bottom-dwelling Hurricanes with thirty. We are holding on to a tenuous two-point lead over the last place New York Islanders. Typing “bottom-dwelling” hurt.
The lineups for the Leafs should look pretty familiar at this point. Once again the Canes need to shut down scoring threat Phil Kessel who has twenty goals and twenty-two helpers to give him forty-two points. He is tied for second in the league with Evgeni Malkin and a couple of guys named Sedin. Winger Joffrey Lupul sits behind him as a team leader with sixteen goals and a healthy twenty-three helpers. Tyler Bozak and Dion Phaneuf trail with significantly less goals but they each have seventeen helpers. It’s up to the Canes defense to make them a whole lot less helpful tonight.
The Canes scoring is still lead by sophomore Jeff Skinner with twenty-four points. That is inconsequential tonight as young Skinner is still sidelined with a concussion. Thank you cards can be addressed to Andy Sutton of the Edmonton Oilers. Tuomo Ruutu has been playing like a man possessed and has passed Skinny in goals with fourteen and has eight helpers on the season to bring him to twenty-two points. Next in line in the goal department is Chad LaRose with nine. Tonight seems like a good enough night for him to break into double digits.
The Canes lines do not look the same as the last couple of meetings as our boys are a bit worse for wear with injuries. In addition to Skinner, steady blueliner Joni Pitkanen is out with a concussion and we are now missing the spunky play of Patrick Dwyer. He has an “upper body injury” incurred during the New Jersey game which sure looked to be to the upper body part known as the head to me. Zac Dalpe has been called up from Charlotte to fill in as a forward and he is expected to anchor the top line with captain Eric Staal. This means a move down for Drayson Bowman who will be playing on the line with Brandon Sutter. While I am sure he is not thrilled about this change, playing on a line with Brandon Sutter doesn’t sound like much punishment to me. Chad LaRose will be shoring up the other side of that line.
Backup tender Brian Boucher is still on injured reserve and Cam Ward will be tending the net, with Justin Peters, who had forty-eight saves in the loss against Pittsburgh the other night, on standby. James Reimer will be in goal for the Leafs.
From the official Canes website here are the Hurricanes depth chart and expected lines for tonight.
Tlusty / Staal / Dalpe
Ruutu / Jokinen / Ponikarovsky
Bowman / Sutter / LaRose
Stewart / Brent / Nödl (Who is no longer NOODLE)
Gleason / McBain
Harrison / Faulk
Allen / Spacek
Keys to the game:
- Put pucks in the net. Ok I just wanted to say that. I could do an interview as a coach now!
- Stay out of the box. Yes another “gimme.” But the Canes don’t need to get burned on a power play.
- Don’t get hurt! Ok this is MY key to the game and something that can be offered up as a prayer to the hockey gods. Seriously guys. If you see Dion Phaneuf heading your way, feel free to flee the area! It’s ok!
For all of your Leafs’ needs head to Editor in Leaf. And for goodness sakes LET’S GO CANES and nip this one in the bud!
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Topics: Andy Sutton, Brian Boucher, Chad LaRose, Charlotte Checkers, Colby Armstrong, Dion Phaneuf, Drayson Bowman, Evgeni Malkin, Florida Panthers, James Reimer, Jeff Skinner, Joffrey Lupul, John-Michael Liles, Joni Pitkanen, Justin Peters, New York Islanders, Patrick Dwyer, Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins, Sedins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tuomo Ruutu, Tyler Bozak, Zac Dalpe