HURRICANES (2-3-1) at DEVILS (3-3-0)
Season series --
Not only did Carolina win the regular-season series in 2008-09 against the Devils for the first time in three seasons by going 3-1-0, but the club stunned the Devils and their fans in a seven-game thriller during the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring.
Big Story --
The matchup is the first meeting between the clubs since Carolina eliminated New Jersey in seven games. It's possible Devils backup goalie Yann Danis could make his first start of the season as Martin Brodeur
got the nod on Friday against the Thrashers. Still, you have to think if Brodeur feels good enough following Friday's game against the Thrashers that he'll want to face the team that posted the biggest opening-round upset of the playoffs against him last spring.
Carolina coach Paul Maurice is just seeking some consistency and despite a 3-2 shootout loss to defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh on Wednesday, he believes the team is headed in the right direction. Defenseman Joe Corvo has been a workhorse for Hurricanes, averaging 27:31 of ice time in six games, including 29:01 against the Pens.
"What we've been lacking is a feeling that we can play in the other team's end a little bit," Maurice said. "We hadn't generated much in the offensive zone at all. Our cycle game wasn't there, our forecheck game wasn't there. That really is our identity, the game that we need to get to. It was a start (against Pittsburgh)."
For a team that normally plays well on its home ice, New Jersey hasn't figured out how to win at the Prudential Center yet this season. Friday's 4-2 loss to Atlanta dropped them to 0-3-0 at home, coming on the heels of a successful road trip in which the Devils swept three games.
Who's Hot --
Devils center Travis Zajac
scored for the fourth time in six games against the Thrashers, and leads the team in scoring. Carolina wing Ray Whitney, who scored two third-period goals against the Penguins on Wednesday, is two games shy of 1,000 for his career. He's posted 3 goals and 4 points in his last three contests. Carolina's Tuomo Ruutu
is the lone Carolina player to have posted a point-per-game or better against New Jersey in his career -- 9 points (4 goals) in 8 games.
Injury Report --
Carolina wing Erik Cole suffered a broken bone in his leg in the closing minutes of his team's 7-2 loss at Boston on Oct. 3 and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Defenseman Joni Pitkanen
(pre-camp knee surgery) practiced with the team Thursday and Friday and will make the trip to New Jersey. Coach Paul Maurice will update his availability following Saturday's morning skate at Prudential Center. Devils forward Patrik Elias
, who began skating Oct. 29 following groin surgery in September, remains sidelined but is close to making a return.
Stat Pack --
Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward
, who finished 3-0-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average and .951 save percentage against New Jersey last season, sports a career 5-4-1 mark with a 2.68 GAA against Atlantic Division teams. The Hurricanes had a season-high 48 hits against the Penguins on Wednesday, including a team-high 7 by defenseman Tim Gleason
. Defenseman Andrew Alberts, one of Carolina's offseason acquisitions, ranked tied for third in the NHL in hits (26) through Thursday. The Hurricanes finished a scintillating 7-for-16 on the power-play against the Devils (43.8 percent) in 2008-09. Devils goalie Martin Brodeur
sports a 32-13-6 all-time record and 2.05 goals-against average in 51 career games against the Carolina franchise.
Puck Drop --
In 2008-09, the Atlantic Division proved to be the most successful in the Eastern Conference as four of the division's five teams (Penguins, Devils, Flyers, Rangers) advanced to the playoffs. Despite the Atlantic's success, the Hurricanes posted a 12-5-3 record in its 20 games against those teams. The Canes are 0-1-1 against the Atlantic this season, however, with a regulation loss to the Flyers and shootout loss to the Penguins.
--Mike G. Morreale, NHL.com