Carolina Hurricanes (2-2-1) vs. Boston Bruins (2-3-0)
TD Garden, 7:00 p.m.
TV: FS-Carolinas, NESN
After that dramatic win against Buffalo on Friday night, the Canes now head to Boston for a rematch of last week’s game with the Bruins. Carolina managed to pick up their first win of the year in Wednesday’s game and they did it through a solid defensive effort and strong penalty kill. Special teams have been a key for this team all season and in the Buffalo game, it was the only reason Carolina won. Some say that you live and die by special teams in the NHL but my personal opinion is that special teams are extremely variable and strong performances at even strength are what wins most game. This is why I am hoping for an effort similar to last week’s game against Boston tonight. We may have shut down Boston’s powerplay last game but we can’t keep going shorthanded five times a game and expect to win. That’s just the way things work in the NHL.
Other notes heading into tonight’s game are that Zac Dalpe will be out week-to-week for Carolina and Brett Sutter was called up to take his place. Dalpe has boatloads of talent but he was playing around five minutes per night every game this year so him not being in the lineup will not mean much. All Sutter has to do is forecheck well and he should be an adequate replacement. Aside from Tim Brent, Paul Maurice hasn’t really been using the fourth line that much but these three had a strong game against Boston last week so maybe it will happen again.
More after the jump
Lines and defense pairings:
LaRose – Staal – Skinner
Ponikarovsky – Jokinen – Ruutu
Tlusty – Bra. Sutter – Dwyer
Stewart – Brent – Bre. Sutter
Pitkanen – Gleason
Kaberle – McBain
Harrison – Allen
Lucic – Seguin – Horton
Marchand – Bergeron – Peverley
Pouliot – Kelly – Caron
Paille – Campbell – Thornton
Chara – Boychuk
Seidenberg – Corvo
Ference – McQuaid
Getting to know the Bruins (again):
I am already hearing the media pundits talk about a “Stanley Cup hangover” for the Bruins. Nevermind that it’s only five games into the season, their #1 center has missed some time and all of their losses have been by only one goal. I suppose that’s what happens when you’re hard pressed to come up with stories on a daily basis and need to generate web hits. Anyway, the biggest struggle for the B’s to start the year has been scoring goals as they have only 10 in 5 games and have already been shutout once. They’ve certainly been generating plenty of offense (32.7 SF/60, 9th in NHL) but some of their big guns haven’t been able to find the back of the net yet. Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron are the main culprits. All three have been fantastic at creating offense so far but they aren’t scoring. At least not yet. Give them some time and the goals will come. Boston’s also been giving up a lot of shots at the other end but it hasn’t hurt them yet as both Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask are off to solid starts. Nothing to worry about in Boston yet, in my opinion.
Matchups, Game Notes & Analysis
- Tyler Seguin’s line did a lot of damage against Carolina the last game so I would be on the lookout for them. Maurice apparently changed up the defense pairings and I guess it was to make sure at least one of Allen or Gleason was against Seguin’s line with Boston getting the last change. Let’s see how Allen and Gleason do away from each other. Claude Julien does the same thing with Zdeno Chara for road games.
- I have to think that Maurice will juggle the lines again to get one of Skinner or Staal away from Chara this game. It seems like the smart thing to do but it’ll be interesting to see how Julien counters it.
- Ponikarovsky and Jokinen have been two of the Canes best players when it comes to getting shots on net and creating offense, so I am hoping that their great play will rub off on Ruutu soon. Ruutu has been the exact opposite of those two so far.
- Brandon Sutter has been the only Hurricane this season to win more than 50% of his draws. He won 71% the last time he played Boston. I wouldn’t expect that number to improve tonight since Boston’s a pretty good team at the faceoff-dot.
- When is Benoit Pouliot going to score a goal for the Bruins? For entertainment sake I hope it comes on a NESN broadcast. Just not tonight.
- Adam McQuaid a game-time decision for the B’s and Matthew Bartowski will be the one stepping in if he can’t go. I’m assuming he’ll play with Andrew Ference and get some heavily sheltered minutes. The fourth line should take note of that because that’s how they did so well last time.
- I’ve already said a lot about Eric Staal’s struggles to start the year but I will say that his biggest problems this year have been preventing chances and playing defense rather than creating offense. I do think the goals will come to him soon on the powerplay but his even strength play could be a lot better.
- Nothing much has changed in terms of who will be getting the tough assignments among forwards but the defense could be interesting if Maurice rolls with those pairings. Pitkanen and Gleason were solid for the first few games, though.
- Poll Question: Which Hurricane defenseman ends up with the most ice-time tonight? My guess is Pitkanen. What about the least? I’m going to say Kaberle but that’s only because I don’t see us having many powerplays.