While a large segment of the hockey world will be watching the return of “Sid the Kid” tonight, I will be tuned in to see our Carolina Hurricanes (26-29-15) take on the St. Louis Blues (45-18-8) in the newly christened PNC Arena.
The Canes have not been lacking in worthy opponents lately as they just fell to the Eastern Conference’s first place team, the New York Rangers 4-2 on Tuesday. After a sputtering start to the season, Ken Hitchcock took over the Blues in November 2011, righted the ship and they are now in contention for the President’s Trophy with 98 points. For this turn around, Hitchcock is considered a frontrunner in the running for the Jack Adams Award.
What does this mean for the Hurricanes? This is a team to be taken seriously and I suspect the red-clad warriors will do just that.
Alternate captain Andy McDonald is on a six game streak for the Blues with 4 goals and 5 helpers. Captain David Backes leads the team with 48 points 21 goals and 27 helpers followed by T.J. Oshie with 18 goals, 30 assists and 48 points. Patrick Berglund sits third in goals with 16 along with 19 helpers and is on a four-game points streak. Also look to hear from Jamie Langenbrunner and David Perron during the matchup. Brian Elliot will be minding the store.
Sitting for the Blues are Kent Huskins (bruised hand) along with Matt D’Agostini, Alex Steen and Kris Russell who all have issues related to concussions. Per Jeremy Rutherford, Blues beat writer, 19 year-old Jaden Schwartz, recently signed to an entry level contract, will not be making an appearance.
The Canes will have their 19 year-olds in tow with forward Jeff Skinner and blueliner Justin Faulk. Skinner hits the ice with 3 goals and 6 helpers in the last nine games and Faulk continues to log big minutes with 28:13 in the contest with the Rangers. Faulk is second in the league of rookie defensemen in points. He leads in goals (8) with 5 of them coming on the power play and 2 of them game winners. He also leads in average shifts per game (29) and time on ice per game (22:55). Shall I go on? Because there is more. Feel free to give to momentum to the #FaulkforCalder movement at any time.
Jaroslav Spacek still sits with a lower body injury and Jiri Tlusty represents the upper-body contingent. Excellent news came from practice this morning as we found out Joni Pitkanen skated with the team! Let’s hope “Joni’s Medical Mystery Theatre” has to close down to due to lack of participation soon!
In goal? No surprise. Mr. Cam Ward will be between the pipes tonight. Bobby Sanguinetti will also get another chance to make a mark on the defense as he remains in Raleigh. The lines were shuffled a bit at practice and it was reported that Samson is the scratch. As always, Michael Smith from the Hurricanes organization keeps you up to date on the depth chart. Anthony Stewart is back on the fourth line so he will get to play in the tilt against his younger brother Chris for some “Stew on Stew” hockey.
Harrison-Faulk (for CALDER *ahem*)
To get the blues and learn more about the “other Stew” stop by Bleedin’ Blue. (Maybe they should see a doctor about that.) Puck drops at 7pm and there will be festivities surrounding the arena renaming tonight at the PNC. Tune in to Fox Sports South and 99.9 the Fan if you can’t make it. We may not make the playoffs but we still want to win. Let’s Go Canes!
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Topics: Andy McDonald, Anthony Stewart, Bobby Sanguinetti, Brian Elliot, Calder Trophy, Cam Ward, Chris Stewart, David Backes, David Perron, Jack Adams Award, Jamie Langenbrunner, Jaroslav Spacek, Jeremy Rutherford, Jiri Tlusty, Joni Pitkanen, Justin Faulk For Calder, Ken Hitchcock, New York Rangers, Patrick Berglund, St. Louis Blues, Stewart Brothers Hockey, T.J. Oshie