A potential four-point swing at play in a game between two wildcard playoff spot competitors tonight in Carolina.
– As we’ve all heard by now, Peter Holland has joined the Marlies for the first time since the trade and Carter Ashton (10 goals, 15 points in 14 AHL games) has been recalled. Holland is three games away from hitting the 25-game mark, and the condition on the draft selection in the trade with Anaheim is that 25 games played upgrades the third round pick to a 2nd.
– It does seem likely, though, that Peter Holland is going to be called upon at least three more times this season and the 2nd round pick will be lost. We haven’t heard anything on Trevor Smith, but based on the timeline reported at the time of his injury he’s still weeks away. Dave Bolland probably isn’t in the conversation until after the Olympic Break. At some point injury, another suspension, or the team needing more options will likely necessitate a recall. The guy had eight points in 10 games at one point, all but one point at even strength, on a team struggling for 5 v 5 offense. Not like he doesn’t provide a useful option.
The logical decision, of course, was to play both Holland and Ashton and maybe boost the scoring depth of the lineup.
– Carter Ashton played center in junior and in one game for the Leafs earlier this season vs. Buffalo. He played 5:10 in that game and went 3 for 3 in the faceoff circle. Depending on the status of David Clarkson, it seems McLaren, Orr, Ashton will be the fourth line tonight and tomorrow, and it will play a negligible amount in a back-to-back scenario.
– Clarkson reportedly hobbled out of the game day skate this morning after breaking his stick in frustration. Doesn’t sound like he’ll go tonight. If he can play tonight or tomorrow vs. the Capitals, one imagines he joins McClement and Kulemin while D’Amigo shifts down to line 4 with Ashton (at center) and Orr.
– Carl Gunnarsson is a game time decision.
– Cam Ward will not start for the Hurricanes, as he is out indefinitely with a lower body injury. Look out, though, as Anton Khudobin has won three in a row and is 5-0-0 with a .940 save percentage and 1.99 goals against average this season. Khudobin was 1-1 against the Leafs as a member of the Bruins with a 2.50 goals against average and a .868 save percentage.
– Eric Staal is out tonight with a lower body injury. Jeff Skinner is expected to center Tuomo Ruutu and Alexander Semin on the Canes’ top line.
– James Reimer will start for the Maple Leafs for the first time in seven games. He’s 4-1-1 against the Hurricanes in his career, stopping 146 of 156 shots over the six starts (.936 save percentage).
– The Leafs won the last meeting between the two teams 5-2 a little over a week ago. Here was the Game in 10 report. The Hurricanes enter tonight winners of four straight since that December 29 meeting.
– The Hurricanes trail the Leafs by two points for the final wildcard spot and hold a game in hand. The full playoff implications of the next two games are laid out here. Carolina (18-16-9) has the worst goal differential of any team in the League with more regulation wins than regulation losses.
Assuming no Gunnarsson/Clarkson:
JvR – Bozak – Kessel
Raymond – Kadri – Lupul
D’Amigo – McClement – Kulemin
McLaren – Ashton – Orr
Gleason – Phaneuf
Gardiner – Franson
Rielly – Ranger
Ruutu – Skinner – Semin
Gerbe – J. Staal – Dwyer
Boychuk – Sutter – Lindholm
Bowman – Malhotra – Dvorak
Faulk – Sekera
Harrison – Bellemore
Liles – Murphy
Randy Carlyle Presser: