RALEIGH, N.C. -- After six consecutive starts by Roberto Luongo, the Canucks will turn to Cory Schneider in goal against Carolina. Here are the projected lineups for both teams as they get set to meet Thursday night at RBC Centre.
Forward Jeff Skinner, the Hurricanes' leading scorer, and defenseman Joni Pitkanen have been diagnosed with concussions and will be out of the lineup indefinitely.
Skinner took a big hit last Wednesday from Edmonton defenseman Andy Sutton and has missed the past two games. Pitkanen had been injured one night earlier in Calgary, leaving the game in the second period.
"We sent Pitkanen back home off the road trip, and he went to the doctor a few days ago," Carolina General Manager Jim Rutherford said Wednesday. "In Jeff Skinner's case, he saw the doctor today. We didn't know for sure until he was diagnosed with one."
The news couldn't be much worse for Carolina. The team is 15th in the East and just 1-5-1 since Kirk Muller replaced Paul Maurice as coach Nov. 28.
Skinner, the 2011 Calder Trophy winner, has been one of the bright spots for Carolina, with 12 goals and 12 assists in 30 games. Pitkanen leads the Hurricanes' defensive corps in scoring with 12 points in 21 games. He also leads the team in average ice time per game at 22:35.
Rutherford said there is no timetable for the return of either player.
"We just follow whatever the doctor tells us," he said. "You can't project when a player would return."
The chance of trading for players to offset the injuries looks bleak. Rutherford already had been pursuing trades prior to the latest injuries.
"There aren't any forwards out there on the trade market that could come in here and make a difference in our team," Rutherford said. "I know first-hand because I've been on the phone for three weeks, not only looking with a potential injury, but because we're a team that's potentially short a couple forwards to be one of the good teams.
"We just have to work together as a team and work our way out of the situation we're in and deal with the present."
The team already has addressed Skinner's roster spot by recalling forward Drayson Bowman from the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League. Bowman, who played Tuesday in Toronto, has 3 points in 35 NHL games spread across the last three seasons.
"We've got guys in the system we've been developing," Rutherford said. "We've talked about bringing younger players in, and that's where we will look to."
With no timetable for the return of Skinner or Pitkanen, Rutherford plans to be patient. He acknowledged that the two players could potentially be out of the lineup for a long stretch.
"Could be -- and if it is, it is," he said. "This is a real serious thing to deal with."
The Hurricanes also are shorthanded by the loss of defenseman Jay Harrison, who has missed the last nine games with an upper-body injury. Backup goaltender Brian Boucher has been out the past four games with a lower-body injury.
The Hurricanes next play Thursday, when they host Vancouver.
RALEIGH, N.C. --Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby, who was held off the scoresheet Thursday against Washington for the second time in six games this season, is still finding his comfort level following his long absence with post-concussion symptoms.
"Some things are right where they need to be, other things aren't as consistent," the Penguins captain said. "Some things aren't near where they need to be. It's doing it over the course of the season."
After scoring twice in his first game back, Crosby hasn't found the net in the Penguins past five games.
"Finishing is one thing that takes a lot of focus,” he said. “You've got a split second to put a shot where you want to and you've got guys on you. It takes time getting into those areas and comfortable. That's something I want to improve on. I know it's going to take some time getting back into things."
The Penguins will turn to backup goaltender Brent Johnson tonight against Carolina. He will be looking for his second win of the season (1-3-2).
Carolina coach Kirk Muller did not confirm a starter in goal.
Here’s a look at the projected lineups for both teams in their matchup Saturday night at RBC Center:
The Rangers are giving backup goaltender Martin Biron his fifth start of the season in place of starter Henrik Lundqvist. Here are the other lineup spots for the Rangers and Hurricanes for tonight's game.
John MacLean, who earned his first head-coaching job one season ago in New Jersey, was fired after the Devils got off to a disastrous 9-22-2 start. Joining the Carolina staff marks his first return to an NHL job.
"I didn't think it would happen this quick, but I'm excited about it," MacLean said after Thursday's morning skate. "As soon as the opportunity arose, my passion came right back for the game to get back into it. I'm very excited to be part of it."
MacLean and Muller broke into the NHL together in 1984-85 with the New Jersey Devils, MacLean as a 19-year-old, Muller as an 18-year-old. They played together for seven seasons. They reunited toward the end of their careers, skating on the Dallas Stars' fourth line from 2000-2002. That unit, along with Mike Keane, was known as "The Grumpy Old Men."
"Johnny's going to run the PK and have a defined role," said Muller. "He's going to be behind the bench with me. He's going to grab forwards individually. We've got some young guys who can benefit from board work and little details in the game that are going to be really important."
The two men enjoyed similar production and longevity during their playing days. Muller registered 959 points in 1,349 regular season games, while MacLean put up 842 points in 1,194 games.
Even their apprenticeships as NHL coaches were similar. Muller spent five years in Montreal as an assistant before landing his first head-coaching job with Carolina, while MacLean spent six years in a support role in New Jersey. Through all of it, they have stayed in close contact.
"As far as being friends," said MacLean, "sometimes it helps that you can be brutally honest with situations and just know that it's for the good."
That will start with his evaluation of Carolina's penalty kill.
"Not major changes," he said, speaking of the NHL's 26th-rated unit. "There's maybe a little different thought to it, understanding (positioning) and stick position. We'll just try to baby step it through. The personnel is fine. The one thing this team does have is speed, and that's helpful in killing penalties. We have some guys that could be high-end penalty killers."
MacLean emphasized several times the nature of his new position — a support role for Muller. He's move beyond his first experience as a bench boss, and he's ready to help in Carolina.
"You're wounded, hurt, whatever," MacLean said. "You understand that it's part of the game and you get through it. You lick your wounds and get on it."
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Kirk Muller will make his NHL coaching debut tonight, one day after replacing Paul Maurice as the Carolina head coach. He met his players before the morning skate on Tuesday, and his message to them was simple.
"We told them it's a clean slate," Muller said. "Just bring energy tonight. It's pretty hard to walk in and change all the x's and o's. I just asked them to work hard and be accountable to each other, come with some life and energy."
His counterpart, Kevin Dineen in Florida, is also a rookie NHL coach. He makes his first visit to Carolina, where he was the Carolina captain toward the end of his playing career. He expects the Hurricanes to react well to a new voice behind the bench.
"(Muller's) got a long depth of experience as an NHL assistant," Dineen said. "He's a fabulous hockey mind. His joyful enthusiasm sometimes masks his intelligence. He's such a quality person and he's going to be a very good coach for a long time."
RALEIGH, N.C. -- After 13 consecutive starts by Ondrej Pavelec in goal, the Jets will turn to backup Chris Mason Friday night against Carolina. Mason earned his only win of the season against the Hurricanes Oct. 22, coming in in relief to stop 18 of 19 shots.
"We just need to rest Pavelec," coach Claude Noel said. "Mason is really a fierce competitor. We had to get him back playing. For us, it's getting him to be part of the team. He's one of the leaders in our room."
Mason, who has appeared in four games, knows the keys to returning to the lineup after a layoff.
"I want to focus on controlling rebounds and covering pucks when I can, slow it down a bit," he said. "Those are the biggest things when you haven't played in a while. You can simulate those situations (in practice) but when you have three or four guys crashing the net and a big pile of guys around, that's the hardest part for me."
The Hurricanes will be without defenseman Jay Harrison, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He will be replaced by Derek Joslin.
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Montreal forward Erik Cole makes his first visit to Carolina after signing a four-year contract with the Canadiens at the start of free agency last July. Always one of Carolina's most popular players, Cole is familiar with returning to Raleigh in another NHL uniform. He was traded to Edmonton before the 2008-09 season, only to be brought back at the trade deadline later that season.
"No matter what the circumstances are, even with being traded to Edmonton, you commit to it and commit to your teammates," Cole said on Wednesday morning. "It's part of the job. There are some things in this business you can't control no matter who you are playing for. You just come to work every day and play hard."
Montreal coach Jacques Martin said Hal Gill will return to the lineup after missing time with a virus. Martin did not reveal which defenseman will come out of the lineup.
It was definitely emotional. I really appreciated the fans. It was a cool feeling and it felt special and the ovation there at the start and then you kind of feel funny out there standing by yourself. Thinking back, I was saying just a bit ago, you think back just trying to make the NHL and then you kind of reflect on all the years being able to play for a great organization here in Calgary and all the fun I've had so far in my career. I feel very fortunate and blessed.
— Boston forward Jarome Iginla on his return to Calgary, where he played for 16 seasons