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Gameday: Canes vs. Ottawa

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes
As busy as the Hurricanes were at Wednesday’s trade deadline, one would expect the team to have a completely different look for tonight’s home game against Ottawa.

Paul Branecky
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That won’t be the case, as defenseman Brian Pothier will be the lone player making his Hurricanes debut, despite the team trading away five players from the NHL roster. That’s what General Manager Jim Rutherford stressed after the dust finally settled on the 2010 trade deadline.

”I do think we’re in a different situation than some of those other teams that are sellers, because in [Monday’s] game we got some healthy guys back,” Rutherford said on Wednesday. “It’s not like we’ve taken a bunch of guys out of our lineup and then we’re just going to fill in the depth guys. We still have a team, and as long as we keep that same work ethic and work together as a team, that should be able to compete very well down the stretch.”

The five trades made by Carolina did necessitate two recalls from Albany of the American Hockey League, but Zach Boychuk and Jay Harrison need no introduction to Hurricanes fans, having played 12 and 18 NHL games this season, respectively.

All in all, there will be just three changes to the lineup from Tuesday’s 5-1 win against Ottawa (not including a goaltending change, as Manny Legace will get the start tonight), suggesting that there’s no reason the Canes shouldn’t be able to pick up where they left off in their pursuit of a seventh consecutive victory.

”We’ve had a number of players move out, but with the exception of Brian coming in, all the other players we’ve had and have played for us,” said coach Paul Maurice. “There’s really not as big of an adjustment as you might think when you look at the number of bodies that have left here in the last two weeks of the hockey season.”

Part of the reason the blow has been softened is due to the relatively good run of health, a back concern with starting goaltender Cam Ward notwithstanding. Due to injuries, it wasn’t until after the Olympic break that the emergence of young players such as Brandon Sutter and Brett Carson truly made veterans expendable. The Hurricanes had two healthy scratches for the win against Toronto, which have since been parlayed into two prospects, two draft picks and salary relief. 

The biggest void for tonight’s game is left by Joe Corvo’s departure to Washington – so much so that the Hurricanes were hesitant to deal him without getting an experienced veteran, Pothier, in return.

”That was a tough one,” said Rutherford. “We were really teetering on whether we were going to do that or not, but the fact that we got a defenseman back to replace him, a good experienced defenseman.”

Pothier should feature heavily tonight as he was paired with Tim Gleason at the morning skate (full lines here), although Maurice said he may try different combinations as tonight’s game progresses. The two were property of the Senators’ organization at the same time around 2002, but never met as Gleason did not attend a training camp with Ottawa prior to his trade to Los Angeles. However, the two do know each other from Team USA’s Olympic orientation camp in 2006. 

“I’m excited to get an opportunity to play,” said Pothier, who added that he was very surprised after being traded yesterday. “It’s a good opportunity for me personally to come into an exciting young team and try to contribute.”

Gleason, Pothier and newcomer Alex Picard – half of the Hurricanes’ defense tonight - have all been members of the Senators’ organization at some point. Also facing his former team will be Matt Cullen, who is scoreless in his first three games for Ottawa.

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