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Gameday: Hurricanes vs. Rangers

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
Like many forwards on the team, Anthony Stewart has seen his role fluctuate this season.

Michael Smith
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He’s played as many as 13 minutes and as few as four. He’s played in the top six and in the bottom six, and he’s been a healthy scratch.

Tonight, when the Carolina Hurricanes take on the New York Rangers, Stewart will be inserted on the first power play unit with forwards Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner. So far this season, Stewart has seen limited use on the power play.

“It’s good to get the opportunity to show what I can do, and I’m going to do my best to make the best of it,” he said. “I’m not going to do anything too extraordinary – just be a big body out there, try to clean up some loose pucks.

“It’s not reinventing the wheel – it’s just being there and trying to knock in whatever pokes out.”

Head coach Kirk Muller sees Stewart on the power play as a new look for the struggling man-advantage, which has converted just 4-of-33 in its last seven games.

“We need some more traffic there. We need some big bodies,” Muller said. “I thought he played well the other night. I’m going to dangle the carrot with him a little bit. Everyone’s got to get a role; everyone’s got to feel a part of it.”

Stewart played 6:21 against Florida on Tuesday, down about 30 seconds from where he was in Ottawa on Sunday. Seeing time on the power play should enhance his fourth line minutes, a welcome opportunity for the 26-year-old.

“Coach is trying to get everybody in there and show what they can do, so here’s my opportunity,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for it for a bit here, so I’ve got to make the most of it. I’m excited to be out there and play in any situation I can.”

Muller’s decision to give Stewart time on the power play also stems from last season, when Stewart scored five of his 14 total goals on the power play with Atlanta. Muller noted Stewart’s size and numbers and thinks he can bring a necessary component to the man-advantage.

“I told the guys if you work hard, you’ll play, and you’ll get extra time in different situations. I think he needs a challenge,” Muller said. “If he can get going and get involved, we’ve added a player to this team.”

At even strength, Stewart will remain on the fourth line, centered by Tim Brent and opposed by newcomer Andreas Nodl. Though they only had a few minutes together on the ice against Florida, Stewart said adjusting to a new winger wasn’t too hard, especially with a speed and skill guy in Nodl.

“Being on the fourth line, we’re not trying to do anything too fancy,” he said. “Any offense we get is going to come from loose pucks we create on the forecheck. We’re not trying to dangle through the neutral zone or anything.”


Brian Boucher put in some extra work after the morning skate with Tom Barrasso. Expect Cam Ward to get the start in net again tonight.

Jamie McBain was also a straggler this morning, as he had a discussion with Dave Lewis and Rod Brind’Amour before putting in a personal on-ice session with them. As reported by our own John Forslund, the same six defensemen will dress tonight – this means McBain and Jay Harrison are the scratches. Harrison participated in practice yesterday and the morning skate this morning. He’s missed three games with an upper-body injury.

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