Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Canucks & Hurricanes Game Day

The Vancouver Canucks (22-20-8) look to open up the month of February on a winning note this evening as they entertain the Carolina Hurricanes (25-21-5). This will be the one and only meeting of the season between the two clubs. In their lone meeting last season in Raleigh, the Canes skated away with a 3-1 win at the RBC Center.

The Canucks are winless in their last eight straight games and capped off the month of January with a 2-5-5 record. Henrik Sedin is riding a four-game point scoring streak (1g,4a) while Sami Salo has points in back-to-back games (1g,1a). Vancouver has gone 1-1-1 against teams from the Southeast Division this season.

Outside of Lawrence Nycholat being on the injured list, tonight will be the first game all season the Canucks are playing a game where their entire roster is 100% healthy. Pavol Demitra returns to the line-up tonight after missing the last three games with a groin injury. He’ll be skating on a line to start the game with Mats Sundin and Ryan Kesler. Demitra comes into the line-up while Mike Brown and Mason Raymond will be the healthy scratches up front while Shane O’Brien will be the healthy scratch on defence.

Speaking of O’Brien, he met again with the media after the morning skate and issued an apology for his comments yesterday following meetings with the Canucks coaches and management. He’s obviously hungry to get back into the line-up, but the earliest that will be will be next Saturday when the Canucks host the Chicago Blackhawks.

As for the Hurricanes, they head into this game in 8th spot in the Eastern Conference with 55 points, one ahead of the Florida Panthers and two better than the Pittsburgh Penguins. Goalie Cam Ward has started 16 straight games for the Canes, including a 2-0 win last Saturday at home against the Atlanta Thrashers. 36 year-old veteran Ray Whitney leads Carolina in scoring (16g,24a) while 24 year-old forward Eric Stall leads the team in goals (21), power play goals (8), and game winning goals (6). Tonight marks the first of a three-game western road trip for Hurricanes, who have gone 13-10-3 since Paul Maurice took over the coaching duties after Peter Laviolette was fired at the beginning of December. The Canes are 0-2-0 against Northwest Division teams this year.

Here are the expected line-ups for both the Canucks and Hurricanes:


D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Pyatt
Kesler – Sundin – Demitra
Burrows – Wellwood – Bernier
Hordichuk – Johnson – Hansen

Mitchell – Salo
Ohlund - Edler
Bieksa – Davison



Sergei Samsonov – Eric Staal – Tuomo Ruutu
Ray Whitney – Matt Cullen – Justin Williams
Chad LaRose – Rod Brind’Amour – Patrick Eaves
Ryan Bayda – Brandon Sutter – Michael Ryan

Tim Gleason – Joe Corvo
Joni Pitkanen – Anton Babchuk
Frantisek Kaberle – Bryan Rodney

Cam Ward
Micheal Leighton

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