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Gameday: Hurricanes vs. Bruins

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
The last meeting between the Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins wasn’t exactly cordial, but a lot has changed since mid-October.

Michael Smith
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In a span of less than a week, the Canes met the Bruins twice, once at home and once on the road. Carolina won the first meeting at the RBC Center on Oct. 12, 3-2. Six days later in Boston, an emotionally-heated game resulted in a 4-1 Hurricanes win. That game featured a season-high 72 penalty minutes for the Bruins.

That was then, when Boston started 3-7, likely suffering from a Stanley Cup hangover.

Since then, the team has won 25 of 30 and 11 of 13 on the road. The Bruins sit atop the Northeast Division and are just a point shy of first place in the Eastern Conference. They didn’t lose a game in regulation in November (12-0-1), but they have lost two of their last six.

Defenseman Bryan Allen doesn’t put much stock into the team’s last meeting. Again, that was then, and this is now.

“I don’t even really remember what happened,” he said when asked if there’d be any spillover emotions. “So, I guess not.”

Head coach Kirk Muller wasn’t with the organization for the last game in Boston, but that doesn’t mean he is unfamiliar with the Beantown game plan.

“I’ve seen them enough – I think three times in the playoffs in the past five years (with Montreal) – so it’s an opponent I’m familiar with,” he said. “You’ve got to beat them at your game. We’ve got to use our speed, make them skate 200 feet and get them into playing our game. They like to draw you in with stuff after whistles, and that’s not our style.”

Defenseman Jay Harrison talked earlier this week about the importance of physicality in the Hurricanes’ game. He said that when leading in hits, the Canes also usually have an edge in scoring opportunities.

“When you see the hits, it means you’re getting in on the forecheck and getting the chance to break up plays, so I think it definitely gives us a better opportunity to win,” Allen said. “They’re going to come hard and compete, and we have to try to match that tonight.”

If the Hurricanes can put forth the effort they did in Tampa Bay on Thursday and even against Philadelphia on Tuesday, there’s no reason they can’t win their third game against Boston this season. Eric Staal might figure to be a big piece in that success, as well.

Staal brings a four-game point streak into tonight’s game. In that stretch, he’s compiled 8 points (1g, 7a) and two three-point games. He was a plus-three in Tampa Bay on Thursday. In that game, his top line with Tuomo Ruutu and Jiri Tlusty combined for 9 points (3g, 6a); Staal had a season-high three assists. In two games against Boston this season, Staal has a goal.


Jeff Skinner will not play tonight. Muller hinted toward the sophomore forward’s return being tomorrow night in Washington when the Canes wrap up a back-to-back set. Skinner skated with the team again today, and after the team left the ice, he stayed on for one-on-three drills with the coaches.

“Yeah, I think they were actually really trying, and they couldn’t get the puck from him,” Muller said, laughing. “So that’s a good sign that he’s close to coming back.”

The Hurricanes will be without the services of Jaroslav Spacek, at least through this weekend. Spacek took a puck in the face on Tuesday but played in Tampa Bay with a full cage on Thursday. With Spacek out of the lineup, Derek Joslin will see his first game action in a month. He last played with the Canes on Dec. 15 but did skate in four games with the Charlotte Checkers during a recent conditioning stint. He earned three assists in that stretch.

Chad LaRose skated before the team did this morning. Muller said LaRose is now day-to-day. Though LaRose won’t play this weekend, Muller said he hopes to get him in the lineup before the All-Star break. The Canes have four games in seven days following this weekend.

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