When the Hurricanes (18-24-9) last entertained the New York Islanders (19-22-7) in their home barn they were battling to stay out of the basement of the Eastern Conference. In this third of four meetings for the teams, the Hurricanes unfortunately hold that last place position behind the Islanders and the Buffalo Sabres (Ouch. That hurt.) All three teams have forty-five points but the Islanders have games in hand over the Canes. The Islanders have won both contests in this series so far, last beating the boys from Carolina in a heartbreaking 2-1 overtime loss in Nassau Coliseum.
The man of the hour in the last tilt was Isles superstar and points leader John Tavares. If his name sounds extra familiar, you may have seen him score a wrap-around goal in this past Sunday’s All-Star Game. While he and Justin Faulk were both on Team Alfredsson, I didn’t really want to see him do anything All-Star worthy. I hope that Justin learned some of his secrets over the weekend that will help shut him down.
Unlike the last match-up, the Hurricanes will have the services of Mr. Jeff Skinner at their disposal. Skinner is second in points with twenty-seven behind Eric Staal with thirty-six. Zac Dalpe was reassigned to Charlotte over the All-Star Break, and this week’s callup is forward Riley Nash making an appearance in his second NHL game. It is unknown whether Nash was called up due to Dalpe being injured on a nasty boarding hit last week in Charlotte. Jim Rutherford had glowing words to say about Nash’s progress on Friday so his callup does not come as much of a surprise. Nash will center the Jokinen/Skinner line with Skinner moving back to wing. As of this time, no update on Dalpe’s status has been given.
Tuomo Ruutu still leads the Canes in goals with fifteen and Skinny trails with fourteen. Although Eric Staal is not racking up the goals he has twenty-five helpers to his credit collecting points and leading the team.
The Canes will be welcoming back to the ice Chad LaRose who was cut with a skate in a contest with the Jets before the break. Jerome Samson, on the other hand, is still recovering from a collision with Zdeno Chara and has been reassigned to the Checkers. Jaro Spacek is not quite ready to do defensive battle since his injury and Derek Joslin will be in the lineup. As for the rest of the walking (or limping) wounded, Joni Pitkanen is still recovering from knee surgery. Brian Boucher and his injured groin are not yet ready to back up Cam Ward in net but he was seen skating after practice with coach Tom Barrasso on Thursday. (It’s ok to “WOO!”)
We expect to see Cam Ward between the pipes. According to Canes color announcer Tripp Tracy, the Islanders will be going with Kevin Poulin as their starter. Rick DiPietro is still injured with something. It’s Rick DiPietro. It’s hard to keep up. (Bless his heart.)
Isles to watch are the aforementioned John Tavares and second in points, P.A. Parenteau. Matt Moulson also continues to drum up scoring for the Isles on their first line and Frans Nielsen remains a threat. Moulson tweeted last night that he and Kyle Okposo had been waiting two hours for their room service dinner. I hope they don’t use their hunger and frustration as motivation tonight!
Tlusty / Staal / Ruutu
Jokinen / Nash / Skinner
Nodl / Sutter / Dwyer
LaRose / Brent / Stewart
Gleason / Allen
Harrison / Faulk
Joslin / McBain
Although I am not sure how current they are, the Isles official website has depth charts and prospective lines.
Moulson / Tavares / Okposo
Rolston / Nielsen / Parenteau
Grabner / Bailey / Martin
Wallace / Reasoner / Niederreiter
MacDonald / Hamonic
Eaton / Staios
Keys to the game? Play sixty full minutes. Our offense has got to start generating some goals. This rivalry has not brought out our best…YET. Time to stop Tavares and company and beat these Isles! Let’s Go Canes!
Eye on Isles is our sister site on the FanSided network. Puck drops at 7pm. If you can’t be in the RBC Center join John and Tripp on Fox Sports South or Chuck Kaiton on 99.9 the fan.
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