Brian Boucher will see his second start tonight since returning from injury against the New Jersey Devils. The Canes had their final playoff hopes dashed by the Winnipeg Jets Friday night, but Coach Kirk Muller is not expecting an 80% effort from the team as a result. Muller is looking for the team to stay positive and finish strong. The Devils however, need just one point to clinch the playoffs, and may look to put some extra pressure on the Canes tonight. The Devils have won two of three meetings with the Hurricanes this season, the last being a 4-2 win for the Canes in which Keeper Cam Ward was credited with a goal.
This will also be the first time the Hurricanes will play against Alexei Ponikarovsky since his trade to the Devils. Poni has 16 points (6 G, 10 A) since starting with the Devils in January. Martin Brodeur is expected to make his fifth straight start in net tonight. Perhaps no one on the Devils roster would like to make a run for the Cup more than soon to be 40 year old Brodeur, who may be seeing the final NHL playoff games of his career.
Playoffs or not – don’t count Carolina out – Captain Eric Staal has 10 points in his last nine games. The checking line is also on fire with Brandon Sutter racking up five points in the last nine games and Drayson Bowman six points in the last nine. The Devils have a hot line in Zach Parise, Travis Zajac and Ilya Kovalchuk and the Canes will have to contain them in order to be successful. Just be nice Mr. Parise – you never know if you might be wearing RED for a different team next year.
Once again the Canes did not capitalize on Power Play opportunities Friday night against the Jets, but did get some good chances. Carolina will also have to defend better in their zone. Dare I say, despite the leads the team has been giving up lately, this seems to be improving.
Again, lines should remain the same:
Tlusty – Staal – LaRose
Skinner – Jokinen – Ruutu
Bowman – Sutter – Dwyer
Joslin – Brent – Stewart
Gleason – Allen
Harrison – Faulk
Pitkanen – McBain
It’s the second to last home game (and the second game in Fan Appreciation Week) Caniacs, so let’s cheer so loud the Canes ears will be ringing with “Let’s Go Canes” all summer long! There will be another Front Lawn Party and a Team Poster giveaway tonight.
Puck drops shortly after 7:00PM at the PNC Arena so if you can’t be there tune in to Fox Sports Carolina or 99.9 FM The Fan.
Last but not least – all of us at Cardiac Cane would like to wish a very Happy Birthday to the most delightful and fun loving mascot in the NHL – Stormy the Ice Hog! Celebrate Stormy’s 15th birthday with him tonight!
Topics: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Andreas Nodl, Brandson Sutter, Brian Boucher, Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes, Drayson Bowman, Eric Staal, Fan Appreciation Week, Ilya Kova, Jaro Spacek, Kirk Muller, Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils, PNC Arena, Stormy, Travis Zajac, Zach Parise