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Gameday: Hurricanes vs. Maple Leafs

Muller to Get Better Assessment of Dalpe Tonight

Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 12:16 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
The Carolina Hurricanes will play their third game in four days tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team that handed the Canes a 2-1 overtime loss north of the border just over two weeks ago.

Michael Smith
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In that game, James Reimer only had to face 19 shots, a then-season low for the Hurricanes before they registered just 18 on Marc-Andre Fleury on Tuesday night. On the same night in Florida, Reimer was pulled after surrendering three goals on eight shots. According to reports yesterday, he will start in net for the Leafs tonight.

The Hurricanes have already defeated the Leafs once at home, a 3-2 win on Nov. 20 in which Jeff Skinner scored the game-winning goal. Jussi Jokinen also scored in that game, and he has gone without a goal since.

Forward Zac Dalpe will play in his second game back with the big club after being recalled on an emergency basis for Patrick Dwyer, who suffered an upper-body injury late in the game Friday against Ottawa.

Tuesday night in Pittsburgh was his first game under head coach Kirk Muller and also his first game-action since Dec. 20 when the Charlotte Checkers last played. An extended break for the holidays kept Dalpe off the ice for most of the week.

“I had one practice in Charlotte before I got the call, so it wasn’t like I was Bambi on ice for the first time in a week,” he said. “The first couple of shifts I was a little fatigued, but once you get in the groove of the game, you kind of forget all of that.”

Against the Penguins, Dalpe skated on a line with Eric Staal and Drayson Bowman. He logged 12:43 of ice time – playing even-strength and on the power play – and was a minus-2.

“[Bowman and I] have played in the past in the minors, but when you put all three together, it’s different no matter what kind of chemistry you have,” Dalpe said. “I thought we had some good shifts together. A couple minuses doesn’t look good on the score sheet, but there are definitely some positives we can draw from it.”

Yesterday in practice, Dalpe remained on Staal’s wing and was opposed by Jiri Tlusty; Bowman slid down to flank Brandon Sutter on the left wing. Muller didn’t want to break up Jokinen’s line, which has arguably the team’s best group over the past week.

“I think it’s a tough game to judge on him,” Muller said of Dalpe against Pittsburgh. “I talked to him. He’s had a long, long Christmas break. The he comes back and jumps into a game against Pittsburgh in Pitt. They’re fresh, they’re ready to go, we played the night before. I said to him, ‘You got your feet wet in that game. Just be prepared to go against Toronto.’”

And so Dalpe is ready. He and most of the team didn’t skate this morning, but the 22-year-old Paris, Ontario native is looking forward to being back on the RBC Center ice.

“I feel good, ready to go and excited for tonight,” he said. “Playing with Eric Staal, you don’t have a choice but to be excited.”

It’s easy to assume that Dalpe would be nervous or looking to feed the struggling Staal, who, after putting together a four-game point streak (2g, 4a), hasn’t had a point in his last six. But that would go against what the coaching staff has told him. Muller’s advice to Dalpe has been the same as what he’s told the other young players: seize the opportunity and play your game, but don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

“That kind of echoes what the old coach Paul Maurice said, too, when I was put with Staal in the exhibition games,” Dalpe said. “[The coaches said], ‘Don’t feel like you have to alter your game to play with him. Obviously, he’s a good player, and he’s going to get you the puck. Don’t feel like you need to change your game to be on his line because, at the end of the day, you’re on his line for your game.’”

ROSTER NOTES

Justin Peters put in a good session with assistant coach Tom Barrasso this morning, so expect Cam Ward to be in net for the Hurricanes.

Jaroslav Spacek was one of three other Canes on the ice this morning. He didn’t practice yesterday in what was a maintenance day for the defenseman after he blocked a shot in the third period on Tuesday. Spacek will be in the lineup tonight.

Carquest

SCHEDULE

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AWAY
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STANDINGS

[SSS_STANDINGS.METROPOLITAN_DIVISION_LABEL]
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
2 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
3 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
4 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
5 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
6 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
7 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
8 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 79 21 40 -13 61
J. Skinner 71 33 21 -14 54
A. Sekera 74 11 33 4 44
A. Semin 65 22 20 1 42
J. Staal 82 15 25 2 40
J. Faulk 76 5 27 -9 32
N. Gerbe 81 16 15 -6 31
J. Tlusty 68 16 14 2 30
R. Nash 73 10 14 0 24
P. Dwyer 75 8 14 -2 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 19 14 1 .926 2.30
C. Ward 10 12 6 .898 3.06
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