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Gameday: Canes vs. Flyers

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes
The Canes’ one pending item of injury news didn’t turn out as well as had been hoped this morning, as defenseman Joni Pitkanen will not play tonight against the team that drafted him, the Philadelphia Flyers.

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“The injury is fine and it’s healed, but it’s a matter of only having three days of skating after missing most of camp,” said Coach Paul Maurice. “We all agree he’s not far off, but he’s just not right where we need him to be yet.”

Maurice didn’t officially rule Pitkanen, who is recovering from knee surgery, out of tomorrow night’s game in Boston, but that seems somewhat unlikely at this point. At least for tonight, offseason signing Jay Harrison will take his place.

After spending the summer adding size, grit and toughness to the lineup, the Canes get to see how they stack up against one of the best in that department tonight against the Flyers.

The Flyers have had that rough and tumble reputation ever since the Broad Street Bullies days of the 1970’s, but it’s not always completely fair to the team they put on the ice year after year. However, with players like Dan Carcillo, Ian Laperierre and Chris Pronger now wearing orange, this season would appear to be the norm rather than the exception. Hey, even their goaltender can throw ‘em from time to time (Exhibit A | Exhibit B).

The Canes didn’t necessarily make that their own primary identity with the acquisitions of Andrew Alberts, Tom Kostopoulos and Aaron Ward, but they should now have the pieces in place to play that rugged style of game, if need be.

”We have to be very, very disciplined with what we do,” cautioned Coach Paul Maurice. “We can’t take a lot of penalties against them, and you have to physically be ready to match their team.”

Carolina still won’t be expected to start most of the rough stuff, as Maurice said the main goal of adding bigger, stronger players to the team was more about the long haul than individual cases.

“It’s more durability, and we would like to be more physical in our own end of the ice to break up cycles and things like that, but at the end of the day the biggest team doesn’t necessarily win,” he said. “We do feel that a bigger team will weather the season better.”

The Flyers have one of the best teams in the league on paper, causing The Hockey News and others to name them early Stanley Cup favorites, but a potential weakness could be in goal. Ray Emery, of the two video clips above, spent last season in the Russian league and has had mixed results as a starter in the NHL. His backup, Brian Boucher (currently out with a lower-body injury), has spent most of his career in that role. Will that be enough to propel an otherwise deep and talented roster to a title?

Here’s today’s game clips:

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