HURRICANES (2-4-1) at ISLANDERS (0-3-3)
Season series -- This is the first of four meetings between the teams this season. The Hurricanes won every game in 2008-09, and put an exclamation point on the season series by winning 9-0 on April 7 at RBCCenter.
Big story -- Six games into their season, the Islanders still don't have a win. After earning points in their first three contests, New York has come up empty since and is coming off a 4-1 loss on home ice to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.
Team Scope :
Hurricanes -- Many were under the impression that Carolina would take the momentum gained from last season's tremendous playoff run and carry it into this campaign, but so far, that hasn't happened. The Hurricanes have won only two of their first seven games and have been outscored 22-15. They're coming off a 2-0 loss to New Jersey on Saturday.
"If we sit and wait for our offense to get going, it's going to be a painful experience," Carolina coach Paul Maurice.
Islanders -- Looking for some type of secondary scoring, Islanders coach Scott Gordon has broken up his top line of John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Matt Moulson. Tavares will center Moulson and captain Doug Weight, while Okposo will skate alongside Sean Bergenheim and Frans Nielsen, who is set to make his season debut on Wednesday following preseason knee surgery. Gordon was planning on starting the season with that trio before Nielsen went down with a knee injury during training camp.
"We're not going to be an explosive offensive team," Gordon said after Saturday's loss. "If we can generate chances … the more consistently we can do that for 60 minutes, the better chance we're going to have to win games and the more we're going to score."
Who's hot -- Carolina has experienced trouble scoring goals, but veteran forward Ray Whitney has found the back of the net three times in seven games. Jussi Jokinen, who is coming off a tremendous postseason, leads the team with five points (2 goals, 3 assists). Cam Ward has a 2.42 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage.
For the Islanders, they have to be awfully pleased with the play of Moulson, who leads the club with four goals. He and Tavares -- his childhood friend -- are tied for the team lead with seven points.
Injury report -- The Hurricanes are still without Erik Cole, who's been out since Oct. 3 with a broken leg. He is hoping to return by mid-November. Left wing Michael Ryan is still out with a concussion that was suffered during the preseason.
With Nielsen back in the mix for the Islanders, only right wing Trent Hunter (pectoral muscle) and Rick DiPietro (lower body) are out. Hunter is still at least two weeks away, while DiPietro's return is still unknown. He did participate in team drills earlier this week.
Stat pack -- With the Islanders struggling, one has to wonder if Wednesday provides the Hurricanes an opportunity to give Ward a breather. The 2006 Conn Smythe Trophy winner has appeared in all seven games for Carolina this season, and it's hard to imagine Paul Maurice wants Michael Leighton to collect more dust. Leighton started 14 games for the Hurricanes last season.
Brendan Witt, who was a minus-34 in 65 games last season (the worst of his career), is minus-9 already in 2009-10.
The 2-0 loss at New Jersey was the second shutout of the season against Carolina, which was blanked just once in 2008-09.
Puck drop -- The Islanders need to win a game, plain and simple. Sure, Gordon's first job is to develop young players such as Tavares, Okposo and Josh Bailey. But for the sake of the Isles' dressing room, the team needs to find a way to put forth a 60-minute effort and come away with two points in one night for the first time this season.
-- Brian Compton, NHL.com