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Gameday: Canes vs. Islanders

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes
For the superstitious, ominous signs are everywhere. That might mean something if Carolina’s luck could possibly get any worse, but that isn’t likely at this point.

Paul Branecky
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That being said, the stage could be set for one of the biggest reverse jinxes in recent memory.  Most Caniacs I’ve spoken to exhausted their most-reliable use-only-in-case-of-emergency good luck charms around game nine of this unfortunate streak, so why not try the opposite this time around? Walk under ladders. Open umbrellas inside. Encourage black cats to walk in front of you. Break a mirror if you have to. Go nuts.

On a more serious note, the lines at today’s morning skate had a different look. Brandon Sutter was in a prime scoring role centering Erik Cole and Ray Whitney, with Jussi Jokinen moving to left wing and Rod Brind’Amour back at center. On defense, Joni Pitkanen was paired with Niclas Wallin. View full combinations here.

Scott Walker and Stephane Yelle missed the skate and have not practiced since leaving Wednesday’s loss against Los Angeles. After this morning’s session, Coach Paul Maurice said that Yelle will definitely not play (for those wondering about that conflicting with the depth chart linked above, I’m unable to leave a spot blank, unfortunately). Based on the fact that he has not skated, Walker seems doubtful as well.

Since the Canes do have enough bodies to fill those roles, no call-ups are necessary even if Walker can’t play. Tim Conboy practiced with the fourth line this morning, while Bryan Rodney would likely dress as the seventh defenseman.

It also looks as though Manny Legace will get his second consecutive start in goal tonight after playing reasonably well on Wednesday. He came off the ice well in advance of Michael Leighton, which is typically a telling sign. In his comments to the media, Maurice said that Legace’s fresh outlook on the team’s current situation works in his favor.

“I think it’s important to have somebody come in who focuses on their own game and doesn’t feel responsible about what’s happened here and doesn’t carry that same weight,” Maurice said.  “I think especially at that position, he’s a guy who’s excited about being in the net and is not waiting for something bad to happen. He doesn’t feel the burden of the hole we’re in.”

For the Islanders, Kyle Okposo and Doug Weight, both top-line forwards at times, are out. Okposo was recently diagnosed with the H1N1 virus, which also caused Weight to miss three games last month. Although Weight is since recovered, an upper-body ailment will keep him sidelined for the next 4-6 weeks.

Carolina handed the Islanders their first win of the season back on November 21, which marked the fourth game of the Hurricanes’ current slide. Since then, New York has posted a record of 5-3-3 and sits just one point out of a playoff spot, led by first overall pick John Tavares and 26-year-old breakout player Matt Moulson, who each have 14 points in 18 games.

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