This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information related to tonight’s match-up featuring the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes one handy location. Make this a regular stop throughout the day, as we update it with notes, videos, photos and more as puck drop draws near.
The Hurricanes will be on the ice at PNC Arena for a 10:30 a.m. morning skate, and we’ll be hanging out rinkside, as always, to bring you updates. Until then, check out a preview of tonight’s game below.Last updated: 4:35 p.m.
Today's the day.
When Eric Staal was traded to the New York Rangers on Feb. 28, we all instinctively looked at the calendar to see when the Hurricanes would next face off with the Blueshirts. March 31. At PNC Arena. Eric knew, and so did Jordan.
"It was definitely, looking ahead, an interesting game to think about," Jordan said after the Canes' morning skate. "I’m excited about tonight. It should be a fun game, and hopefully we get the win."
The Staal family -- Eric, Jordan, Marc, their parents, wives and children -- all gathered in Raleigh last night for an off-ice reunion. Tonight, it's a house divided on the ice. Eric, Marc and the Rangers will be looking to clinch a playoff berth, and the Hurricanes will be playing the role of spoilers.
"[Eric] is going to play and be real good tonight," Peters said. "Their team is going to be good, and we’ve got to match that."
Jordan said he's been keeping an eye on his brothers, and the converse is true as well.
"You could tell he was kind of finding his way for a little bit there, and last game he played unbelievable," Jordan said of Eric. "He’s starting to really skate and show what he can do."
Eric returned to PNC Arena early this morning and was greeted by a wall of pictures from his 12 seasons spent with the Carolina Hurricanes.
"I thought that was really cool. When you’re somewhere for as long as I had been, there’s an attachment to the area and the people. For them to do something like that, it brings back a lot of memories. They had pictures where I was pretty young in some of them, long locks, some moments you never forget," Staal said. "I’m thankful that people took time to come up with pictures like that. They’re memories I’ll remember forever."
The Rangers let Eric Staal take the ice first for their morning skate, and then shut the door behind him, watching him twirl around on his own before he waved them onto the ice.
"Typical," Staal said with a chuckle. "I was just trying to show them the direction of the ice. I knew where it was at. ... It was fun."
Tonight will be fun, as well. Emotional. But fun in the end.
"It is difficult," Jordan said. "For him to be here for this long and gone through what he’s gone through here, I’m sure there will be a lot of past emotions running through his mind."
"It’s going to be emotional. We’ll have a little video tribute to him," Peters said. "He’s done a lot of good things for the organization and did a lot of good things for me as my captain."
TOLCHINSKY READY FOR NHL DEBUT3:45 p.m.
Sergey Tolchinsky was at Prudential Center in New Jersey in June of 2013, waiting to hear his name called in the NHL Draft. He waited, waited and waited some more before leaving without having been drafted.
He then attended a pair of development camps with the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes, and later in the summer, the Canes inked Tolchinsky to a three-year, entry-level contract.
Now, Tolchinsky is set to make his NHL debut with the Hurricanes against the other NHL club he tried out with three years ago.
“I’m pretty excited to play against this team,” he said with a smile on his face after the Canes’ morning skate.FULL STORY >
LINEUP NOTES AND PETERS QUOTES12:55 p.m.
Head coach Bill Peters confirmed that Cam Ward would be the Canes' starting goaltender tonight, and Michal Jordan will be the team's healthy extra on defense.
"Coming off a day off yesterday, we want to make sure we’re skating early and get off to a good start," Peters said. "I thought we did that in our last home game against New Jersey and we’ve got to do it again tonight."
Here's more from the Canes' bench boss.On Eric Staal's return:
"It’s going to be emotional. We’ll have a little video tribute to him. He’s done a lot of good things for the organization and did a lot of good things for me as my captain."On the emotions involved in the game:
"[E. Staal] is going to play and be real good tonight. Their team is going to be good, and we’ve got to match that."On Sergey Tolchinsky's NHL debut:
"I expect him to make some plays, be dynamic, be noticeable and be responsible. He’s played on a line in Charlotte with Derek Ryan, so there will be some chemistry and confidence amongst each other there."On matching up against a playoff-bound team with a young squad:
"You want to be playing important games against good teams to get a real good read on your players."On the Rangers and the troubles they've given the Canes recently:
"Nightmares. That’s why I’m so tired. I haven’t slept. I’ll have to get a nap in. ... They’re a good team. They’re a big team. I think their size, pace and speed gives us trouble."
CANES LINES: MORNING SKATE10:45 a.m.
Sergey Tolchinsky joined the Hurricanes at their morning skate today after receiving his first NHL call-up on Wednesday evening. It appears he'll skate on a line with Derek Ryan in the middle and Patrick Brown on the right side.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (defensive pairs)
We'll have more from inside the room, including confirmation on what the team's defense will look like tonight and thoughts ahead of tonight's match-up with Eric Staal, in just a bit.
CANES HOST STAAL, RANGERS6:00 a.m.
A familiar No. 12 will be back at PNC Arena tonight, but he’ll be wearing unfamiliar colors.
For the first time since the Feb. 28 trade, longtime Hurricanes captain and now New York Rangers forward Eric Staal will face off with his former club.
“You don’t really know how you’re going to react or feel or what your emotions will be until you really experience it. It’s going to be a lot of different, unique emotions just in general because of being there for so long, playing in that building as the home team,” Staal said on a Tuesday conference call. “I’m not sure what I’ll be feeling, to be honest.”
For the first time since 2012, Eric will line up opposite his brother, Jordan.
“It’s definitely going to be a weird feeling seeing him on the other side, for sure,” he said.
But now he has another brother, Marc, on the same bench. In 14 games with the Rangers, Staal has totaled five points (3g, 2a).
“Every game and every day I’m feeling more comfortable and more confident with the way I can help this team. I feel like I will be able to do that going forward. It’s been fun,” he said. “Walking in the room from day one, I’ve felt a part of it. That’s what you want as a player.”
The Hurricanes have taken eight of their last 12 games to extra hockey, including Tuesday night’s match-up in Brooklyn against the Islanders, a 2-1 shootout loss. Since the trade deadline, the Hurricanes have earned points in 11 of 13 games (5-2-6), something that doesn’t surprise the team’s former captain.
“The way they play and the system Bill has in place is going to enable them to be competitive. I’ve been keeping an eye on how they’re playing and watching, talking with Jordan and their guys. They’re competitive, and they’re a resilient group,” Eric said. “Guys compete every day at the rink in practice and games, and I’m not surprised that they’ve been competitive. I’m sure they would have liked to have the extra points when they’ve lost a few in overtime or shootouts, but that’s how this league is. It’s tight.”
The Rangers can clinch a playoff berth for the sixth consecutive season with a win. They currently sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 95 points (43-24-9).
The Hurricanes made a forward swap with the Charlotte Checkers on Wednesday, reassigning Brody Sutter and recalling Sergey Tolchinsky. The 21-year-old Russian winger, who has tallied 32 points (11g, 21a) in 65 games played for Charlotte this season, will be available to make his NHL debut tonight.CANESPR NOTES:
The Rangers have won 14 of the last 15 games against the Hurricanes and have scored four or more goals in eight of those contests. The Rangers swept the five-game season series in 2014-15 and have won the first three games in the 2015-16 season series. … The Canes have killed off 51 of their last 55 penalties (92.7 percent).
is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.Email