TORONTO -- The struggling Carolina Hurricanes will also be shorthanded Tuesday night when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. The Hurricanes are 2-7-1 in their past 10 games and coach Kirk Muller, who is already without Joni Pitkanen and Jay Harrison will also be without the services of 2011 Calder Trophy winner, Jeff Skinner, who remained in North Carolina for a medical evaluation.
It is something of a homecoming for Kirk Muller, who hails from Kingston Ontario, half-way between Toronto and Montreal (where he won the Stanley Cup in 1993). The Maple Leafs and Canadiens are two of the six teams he played for in his 22-year NHL career.
“[I’m an] Ontario boy, so it’s always nice to come to Toronto,” Muller said. “It’s always a great atmosphere, a lot of friends and family but I’m excited because we had a couple of days to work on some stuff and our guys recovered and are ready for a big game tonight.”
Carolina is only 26th in the NHL on the power play at 13.1 percent for the season, but the Hurricanes have converted 3 of 9 chances in the past two games.
“[We’ve made] a couple of personnel moves [on the power play], it’s more of calming things down,” Muller said. “When you are not winning you force things, I try to tell the guys, there is a lot of skill here, believe in the plays, work them and do it consistently and over time you will get some production.”
A successful power play from an opposing team might not be good news for the Leafs. Seven of the past nine goals allowed by Toronto in the past three games have come with the opponent on the man advantage.
“We’ve practiced our PK,” Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. “It’s been poor the last two games. The previous 10 or 15 it was pretty good, so we have a bit of an anomaly, none the less, we’ve spent the last two days putting probably an hour of our two hours of practice to penalty killing.”
Phil Kessel enters this game in a three-way tie in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy. He has 18 goals and is second in the League with 36 points.