Less than 24 hours after their first meeting of the season, the Blue Jackets and Hurricanes are set to do battle for the first time at Nationwide Arena.
What can one team (or both) learn from seeing one other the night before? John Tortorella doesn’t believe much in that, instead preferring to focus on his own team and what the Blue Jackets need to accomplish, but there’s something to be said for knowing what you faced a short time ago.
Neither the Hurricanes or Blue Jackets have played particularly well lately, but sometimes, the renewal of a division rivalry can kick things up a notch and last night's game - a 4-1 win for Carolina - showed that there's no love lost between the two clubs.
Anton Forsberg started on Friday night for Columbus, so it’s reasonable to assume that Joonas Korpisalo gets the call on Saturday night at Nationwide Arena. Korpisalo and Forsberg remain the Blue Jackets’ goaltending tandem for the time being while both Sergei Bobrovsky (groin) and Curtis McElhinney (ankle) recover from injuries.
The good news is that Bobrovsky, who suffered a setback to a previous injury on New Year’s Eve, traveled with the team to Raleigh and took part in a partial practice session on Friday at PNC Arena. He remains sidelined indefinitely, but at the very least, his return to the ice (in a limited capacity) is a good sign.
Well, it was last night at PNC Arena, and it wasn't the desired result for the Blue Jackets.
They fell behind in the first period, tied it up in the second but the game got away from them in the third period. Captain Nick Foligno left the game after a hit to the head from Carolina's Brad Malone (who was not penalized on the play) and did not return. John Tortorella did not have an update post-game but expected to have one at some point Saturday.
Cam Ward made 35 saves in goal for the Hurricanes while Forsberg stopped 25 Carolina shots.
There were high expectations for Jordan Staal upon his arrival to Raleigh three years ago, acquired from Pittsburgh in a blockbuster draft day trade that, at the time, was thought to give the Hurricanes a big boost down the middle.
Staal hasn’t produced at the offensive clip that many expected when he was traded to Carolina and expected to play a larger role, but he’s still a reliable, two-way player who has the ability to put the puck in the net – evidenced on Friday night when he tipped in a Jacob Slavin point shot to get the Hurricanes on the board late in the first period.
Hurricanes coach Bill Peters can use the younger Staal in all situations, and he’s always been a threat while shorthanded, and it won’t be a surprise to see him in a variety of roles on Saturday night at Nationwide Arena as both teams wrap up the second half of a weekend home-and-home series.