Tracking the Storm

Gameday: Hurricanes vs. Maple Leafs

Muller to Get Better Assessment of Dalpe Tonight

Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 12:16 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Gameday: Hurricanes vs. Maple Leafs
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.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72