Tonight our Carolina Hurricanes (26-28-15) take the ice in the warm and welcoming confines of Madison Square Garden to take on the league-leading New York Rangers (43-18-7). Ok, so maybe it won’t be so warm or welcoming, but the matchup is definitely happening tonight on the ice. This will be the fourth meeting of the teams this season, and so far the Blueshirts lead the series 3-0. The Rangers are coming in off a 4-3 overtime victory against their local rivals and perpetual pests to the Hurricanes, the Islanders. The Hurricanes are trying to get back on the winning track again after a well fought game but a 2-0 loss on Sunday to the Florida Panthers.
The game will be a homecoming of sorts to Checkers defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti who has just received his first call up with the Canes’ big club. The blueliner was drafted in the first round by the Rangers back in 2006 and traded to the Hurricanes in 2010 I think it’s time for Bobby to play his heart out and show the Rangers what they gave up. He has 27 helpers and 8 goals on the season in the AHL. If his tweets are any indication, the 24 year-old is ready to show his stuff.
"@Sangs2224 Thanks for all the support. Feel like a kid waiting for Christmas. Tomorrow can’t come soon enough. #excited"
Sanguinetti is expected to fill in for Jaroslav Spacek who entered the Canes’ revolving door of injury on Sunday. Jiri Tlusty is also nursing an upper body injury from the game on the 10th against the Lightning. I have not heard official word on his status. I would expect Derek Joslin to be the healthy scratch for the evening. If so, I don’t necessarily see that as a commentary on his play. Coach Muller has had nothing but positive things to say about the blueliner who has been willing to chip in with any role he has been assigned to. I suspect the coach may be seeing what Sanguinetti brings to the table for next season. On the other hand, Anthony Stewart seems to have landed himself in the coach’s doghouse and saw only 7:53 in TOI in the last game and did not play any shifts in the third. I will be watching to see how much time he gets in this game. As we have been reporting for months, Joni Pitkanen is still on injured reserved recovering from his knee surgery and concussion.
Although it has not been confirmed at this time, it appears that Ryan Callahan will not play for the Rangers due to his bruised foot and Michael Del Zotto has a hip injury. Per Jim Cerny, the Rangers’ beat writer, they did not skate in practice this morning. We will update you if we get confirmation. Michael Sauer remains out recovering from a concussion sustained earlier in the season. Marian Gaborik still leads the Blueshirts in points at 61 with 33 goals and 28 helpers. Brad Richards still follows the leader with 21 goals and 29 assists. Looks like Henrik Lundqvist has the flu and Martin Biron will be in net backed up by Chad Johnson called up today from the Connecticut Whale.
Although he is no longer streaking, the Canes are coming in with Eric Staal still leading the charge with 19 goals but a hefty 40 helpers. He is twenty points ahead of the next in line, Jeff Skinner who also has 19 goals but only half of the assists of the captain. Staal has been nursing some sort of bug and while I don’t expect him to be feeling one-hundred percent, I am hoping for at least a solid eighty. He was looking quite ill during the last game and I halfway expected him to lose his lunch on the bench. (Sorry Caniacs).
Here are the lines the Hurricanes currently have on the depth chart, but I expect Coach Muller to make adjustments during the game. Unless he accidentally shared a water bottle with Staal, Cam Ward will be in net.
Keys to the game:
- Last time we met I said “The Rangers are good. Really good.” Well guess what Caniacs. They still are. Stick to our game and play until the last clicks of the clock. We may not make the playoffs but we can always try to spoil it for someone else. Play every game to win no matter what is on the line.
- The Rangers are still big. Really big. We can’t afford to lose any more players to injury. Please do not break Jeff Skinner. While I don’t want anyone else broken, it’s still open season on the sophomore and I think he is more vulnerable to injury than the other guys, because he gets clobbered on a nightly basis.
- I really liked the line chemistry of Jokinen, Skinner and LaRose the first time I saw them. Yes I was surprised as well. I hope they can get that magic back tonight.
- In the words of the late basketball coach Jim Valvano, “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.”
UPDATED 6:21PM: Per John Forslund “Defense pairs change tonight, Canes will run 5/24, 44/28, 6/4. Derek Joslin skates on fourth line. Anthony Stewart will be a healthy scratch”
Please note the game time is 7:30PM not 7:00 Caniacs and it will be shown on NBC Sports. Yes you may have to endure some Mike Milbury, but you do what you gotta do to support your team. As always you can catch Chuck Kaiton’s call on 99.9 the Fan.
Our sister site Blue Line Station has coverage on the boys from the Big Apple. Let’s Go Canes!
We appreciate our readers. Have any thoughts you want to share as we head into the Garden tonight? Any warm Mike Milbury memories? Leave us a comment! You can find us on Facebook at CardiacCane or come chat with us on Twitter: @Esbee92, @CardiacCaneFS, @peacelovepuck, @caniac176 and @CaniacCaz.