While Carolina’s Erik Cole will be looking to validate his new/old team’s move to grab him at the trade deadline, his opponents tonight have already gotten off to a good start following a few moves of their own.
The Calgary Flames, who are generally regarded as the team that did the most to increase their chances of winning a Stanley Cup with the acquisitions of Olli Jokinen and Jordan Leopold on Wednesday, will be at the RBC Center tonight to face the Canes.
Last night, the Flames played their first game since the deadline – a 5-1 win at Philadelphia that featured two goals by Jokinen and one by Leopold. If not for a great save by Flyers goaltender Martin Biron, Jokinen would have had a hat trick on his debut, which was spent on a scary-good line with Jarome Iginla and Mike Cammalleri. That unit finished the night with a combined seven points and a clean sweep of the game’s three stars.
“Got it all out in the first game, we hope,” said Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice. “I think that you saw some things that maybe we’re looking to have happen on our team. When really high-end player get together, they’re really excited about that.”
Although Jokinen was scoreless in two games against Carolina this season as a Phoenix Coyote, he had 52 points in 50 career games against the Hurricanes prior to that. With that being the case, it may seem like bad timing for the trade, but the Flames may be saying the same thing about Cole, who had three goals and an assist in four match-ups against Calgary earlier this season.
“It’s a bit of a familiar foe for me, and it’s kind of strange how that works out,” said Cole. “They’re a tough team, and it’s going to be a tough game in here tonight.”
The Canes’ new acquisition will also be on a new-look top line, skating with old friend Eric Staal and Tuomo Ruutu.
“Hopefully Erik gets back with his old centerman and we can get the player that was so good for us here and he can help us out tonight,” said Maurice. “The Jokinen factor last night where a new guy comes in the lineup and off the go – we’re hoping for the same.”
“It will be exciting to be play with him again for sure,” said Cole of being reunited with Staal. “He’s a tremendous player and I’m thankful to have the opportunity to play with him again.”
Maurice said that Ryan Bayda and Michael Ryan would be healthy scratches for tonight’s game. Contrary to what Maurice said at yesterday’s practice, Ryan was never actually placed on waivers.