All four of the Staal brothers could have played on the same NHL ice for the first time ever after Jared Staal was recalled by the Carolina Hurricanes yesterday, but it looks like Marc Staal will not make a return from his eye injury that has kept him out of the lineup since March 5.
Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, this may be the most interesting story line going into their game against the New York Rangers on Thursday night at 7.
Carolina was eliminated from playoff contention last week, but the team has been playing better of late. The top line of Jiri Tlusty, Eric Staal and Alexander Semin have been playing great, while Jordan Staal finally got on the goal sheet in the last game against the New York Islanders.
Ruutu figures to be the third player on the line.
Jeff Skinner played center in the game against the Islanders and did pretty well. Muller will most likely keep the 20-year-old in the same spot with Patrick Dwyer and Nicolas Blanchard or LaRose. If Blanchard stays on the third line, LaRose will slot to the fourth, adding another tough break to LaRose’s trying season. The American is in the last year of his contract, has only scored two goals this season and suffered an injury in early March.
(UPDATE: Semin has a concussion and will miss the last two games of the season. LaRose will take his spot on the first line.)
Dan Ellis played strong, but not as well as he did against the Tampa Bay Lightning, in the game against the Islanders. Muller announces his starter on game day and may choose to split the last two games between Ellis and Justin Peters. Right now Ellis has two wins in a row and would be the go-to starter if it wasn’t so late in the season.
The Hurricanes also have another chance of keeping a team out of the playoffs as they did against the Islanders. If the Rangers earn two points against the Canes, they will clinch a late-seed spot, after being Stanley Cup favorites before the season started.
The Rangers lost to the last-place Florida Panthers on Tuesday night, failing to clinch a playoff spot. Rangers have come on hot late in the season going 6-3-1 in the last 10. All-star netminder Henrik Lundqvist will most likely be in net on Thursday night.