It’s usually an advantage to have a day of rest while your opponent plays in a different city the night before, but the Blue Jackets should carry some momentum into tonight’s game at the RBC Center.
Columbus scored a big 3-2 win over Detroit on Friday night, ending the Red Wings’ six-game winning streak. The hero of that game, as has been the case for the Jackets all season, was rookie goaltender Steve Mason. He made 32 saves in his first game back from a bout with mononucleosis that kept him out of the lineup for 10 days but affected him well prior to that.
With the Blue Jackets in the same situation the Hurricanes are (literally – they have identical records and are both the ninth seed in their respective conferences), they probably can’t afford to sit the 20-year-old rookie of the year favorite tonight. It will be a test to see if his energy level holds up coming off of the illness.
“I think you’re going to see two teams adhere to their game plans very closely, and it’s probably going to be goaltending at the end of the day,” said Paul Maurice.
Dennis Seidenberg is in tonight for the Canes, who have reassigned Bryan Rodney to Albany. The team has also placed Frank Kaberle, who will be a healthy extra again tonight, on waivers for the second time this season
The Hurricanes can take some comfort in the fact that they’ve been able to bounce back from disappointing losses this season, most recently after last week’s heartbreaker in Vancouver.
“We can’t afford to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves,” said Matt Cullen. “We’re on the outside looking in right now and we know we have some ground to make up. We’re not going to win every game, so we understand that we have to bounce back from our losses and not let them compound.”
According to Maurice, the team has been responding well in practices since Thursday’s defeat.
“Both teams are going to play very hard, and we got what we like to think as our west coast trip out of us the other night,” he said. “We moved better yesterday and we moved better in the morning skate today, so we have some optimism about how we’re going to play.”