– Happy New Year, everybody!
This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information related to tonight’s New Year’s Eve tilt between the Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins in one handy location. Make this a regular stop throughout the day, as we update it with notes, photos and more as puck drop draws near.
A projected lineup and preview of tonight’s game can be found below. The Hurricanes will be on the ice at CONSOL Energy Center for an 11:30 a.m. morning skate. As always, we’ll be rinkside to bring you updates then!Last updated: 6:30 p.m.
JORDAN STAAL OUT6:30 p.m.
Jordan Staal will not be in the lineup tonight for the Canes. He will sit out with a lower-body concern. Zach Boychuk will dress in his stead. Here is a look at the new forward lines:
MURPHY EXCITED TO BE BACK WITH THE BIG CLUB4:00 p.m.
At the end of October, defenseman Ryan Murphy was reassigned to the Charlotte Checkers as he was on the outside looking in on the six regular defensemen.
Since then, he's been waiting and working -- and counting.
"It was two months and a day, I think, until I was back up here," he said after the morning skate in Pittsburgh. "I’ve been waiting, and I’m excited to be back. I’m going to take advantage of it, hopefully stay around for a few games and earn a spot.”
Murphy, with the name plate that reads "Murph Dawg," sits beside his defensive partner Michal Jordan in the Pittsburgh dressing room.
"Before he came up we were playing together, so we’re pretty familiar with each other," Murphy said. "It should be a fun game.”
During his 23 games in Charlotte, Murphy racked up 17 points -- all assists -- and led (or tied in the case of points) the team in each category.
"I’ve been working with the D coach Geordie Kinnear down there," Murphy said. "We work a lot after practice on little offensive and defensive things to try and piece together my game bit by bit.”
Head coach Bill Peters hopes inserting Murphy into the Canes lineup tonight helps to jump-start a still-sputtering offense.
"He was drafted as a puck-mover and an offensive-type guy," he said. "We haven't scored as much as we've wanted to recentl, so hopefully he can help us in transition and generate offense."
"I talked to a few of the coaches, and they expect a puck-moving defenseman like I am," Murphy said. "They want me to move my feet and have fun.”
CANES LINEUP NOTES AND PETERS QUOTES1:00 p.m.
A couple changes were made to the lineup in this morning's skate, the most notable of which was the insertion of Ryan Murphy, who was recalled on Tuesday evening, into the lineup.
E. Staal-J. Staal-Lindholm
Peters addressed the media following the skate:On the status of Jordan Staal:
"He got through the skate and practiced yesterday, so as far as I know we have him in the lineup."On Ryan Murphy getting into the lineup:
"He was drafted as a puck-mover and an offensive-type guy. We haven't scored as much as we've wanted to recently, so hopefully he can help us in transition and generate offense."On putting Elias Lindholm with the brothers Staal:
"Lindy is a smart player, and he can make plays. I think he'll be a good complement to those two guys."On preparing for tonight's game:
"We've got to worry about our game. Our game isn't exactly where we want it to be, obviously, so we're more focused on ourselves. ... We've got to make sure we come out, possess the puck and play a speed game."On preaching confidence in a scoring drought:
"Confidence has to be earned. I'm going to keep playing guys as long as they're doing good things away from the puck. ... They've got to find a way to score, which we continue to work on."
CANES PROJECTED LINEUP6:00 a.m.
Here’s how the Canes lined up in practice at Raleigh Center Ice on Tuesday, and it should also reflect tonight’s lineup:
E. Staal-J. Staal-Lindholm
Defenseman Ryan Murphy was recalled from Charlotte on Tuesday evening, which could impact the above defensive pairs. If anything changes at the morning skate, we’ll be sure to pass along those updates.
CANES CLOSE OUT 2014 IN PITTSBURGH6:00 a.m.
It’s curtains on the calendar year, as the Carolina Hurricanes ring in the New Year in the Steel City against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Tonight’s game marks the third meeting between the Metropolitan Division opponents in just over a month; they last met in a back-to-back, home-and-home set following Thanksgiving.
The Hurricanes claimed victory in the first game in Pittsburgh by a 4-2 margin. The next night, the Pens bested the Canes 3-2 in Raleigh.
“We had the puck a lot, and we played with speed,” head coach Bill Peters said of the team’s win in Pittsburgh. “We want to do that again. … We want to make sure we possess [the puck], and when we have it, we want to value possession of it so we don’t have to work hard to get it back.”
Jiri Tlusty netted two goals in that 4-2 victory, including an empty-net goal at the 19:47 mark of the third period to seal the win. He returned to the Canes’ lineup on Monday night after missing seven games with an upper-body injury, and Peters said the 26-year-old Czech forward, who still leads the team in goals with 10, got better as the game progressed.
The Hurricanes didn’t have former Penguin Jordan Staal in their last trip to Pittsburgh, but they will have No. 11 in the lineup tonight, his second game of the season after also returning on Monday.
“A lot of positives. I thought that line was very good,” Peters said of Staal’s debut. “He had lots of energy. He was good down low defensively, and I thought it really helped Eric.”
Despite the returns of two top offensive players to the lineup, the Hurricanes still managed just a goal against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night, as they suffered a 3-1 defeat. The Canes have now scored 17 goals in 13 December games, an average of just 1.31 per game.
“We’ve got to execute better,” Peters said. “It’s not like we’re not getting offensive chances, but we’ve got to bear down when we do.
“We’ve got to continue to work hard,” he continued. “We’ve got to find a way to get on the board. We’re a different team when we score early. I think it gives us a little more confidence and a little bit of an energy boost.”
For the third game in a row, the Canes will turn to Cam Ward in net. It will be the netminder’ 26th start of the season, and he is 13-6-3 with a 2.37 goals-against average in 22 career appearances against the Penguins. In Pittsburgh on Nov. 28, Ward made 20 saves in his team’s 4-2 victory, including a ten-bell stick save on Blake Comeau in the first period.
“He’s been very good, and we’re going to go with him again,” Peters said.
NOTES: Eric Staal, who skated in his 800th career game on Monday, has points in two straight games. He scored the lone goal, a power-play tally, in the 3-1 loss to Montreal. Staal is also a point-per-game player against Pittsburgh, posting 40 points (16g, 24a) in as many games. … The Canes are 18-14-5 against Pittsburgh since the end of the 2004-05 lockout.