Continuing a trend of early-season playoff rematches that extends into Saturday’s trip to New Jersey, the Canes will tonight get another crack at the team that eliminated them last season, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Carolina players and coaches have been fielding questions about getting revenge on their postseason nemeses over the last few days, but most are reserved in their comments. After all, it was an unfortunately short four-game series, with a Ryan Bayda near-suspension for high-sticking being the only memorable controversy. The Penguins certainly didn’t hold a grudge against Bayda, signing him to a two-way deal just before this season (he’s currently with their AHL team in Scranton/Wilkes Barre).
“That series wasn’t overly vicious,” said Hurricanes Coach Paul Maurice. “I don’t think there was too much left in that. Maybe a few guys have something they’d like to square away, but for the most part it was a pretty cleanly played series.” Pittsburgh is currently tied for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, making it to
"It's not going to be about last year," said Eric Staal, who added that he is feeling much better and will play tonight as expected. "We're just looking for two points here."
However, a little motivation for the Canes based on last season’s exit could go a long way, as they found out firsthand in a 7-2 road loss to the Boston Bruins on the second game of the season.
“We were on the other side of that dynamic in Boston and didn’t enjoy it too much,” said Maurice. “Hopefully there’s something there.”
The Penguins bring mostly the same team from last spring into Raleigh this time around, with Jay McKee coming into the lineup in place of Rob Scuderi, who has since signed with Los Angeles, ranking as the biggest change.
5-1-0 the hard way by winning all four of their road contests against the Islanders, Flyers, Maple Leafs and Senators, one of which is obviously more impressive than the others. Since Dan Bylsma took over as coach towards the end of last season, the Penguins are
12-2-3 on the road.
Loved this partial quote from Bill Guerin in response to a question from the Penguins’ official site about the secret to the team’s success away from home:
”First of all I think we’re good,” said Guerin.
Confidence is never a bad thing. However, the Pens are
1-4-1 in their last six games in
Raleigh, not including the most recent postseason.
Pittsburgh’s only loss of the season is to the Phoenix Coyotes, a game they may have taken lightly in anticipation of their victorious trip to
Philadelphia the following night. Also impressive was the Penguins’ season-opening win against the New York Rangers, who have won five in a row since and are off to their traditionally fast start.
Eric's brother Jordan Staal is among the hottest Penguins players with goals in each of his last three games.