Pittsburgh Penguins (10-3-3) at Carolina Hurricanes (5-8-3)
RBC Center, 7 p.m.
TV: FS-Carolinas, ROOT Sports
Remember what I said yesterday about trying to be optimistic? The Canes are making it hard for me to do that. It's not just because they have lost five in a row and failed to score more than two goals in each of those games, but also the fact that injuries are piling on. Joni Pitkanen is out week-to-week with a foot injury and I can't stress out huge of an injury this is. The Canes do have a lot of NHL-quality defenders at their disposal but Pitkanen is the backbone on this defense. He plays in all situations, leads the team in time on ice and is actually keeping his head above water in corsi on a team that is getting shelled at even strength. This also means that someone else is going to have to step up and take over the minutes that Pitkanen plays. As much as everyone doesn't want to hear it, that someone might be Tomas Kaberle. He hasn't been used in that role in awhile but I'm all for giving it a shot and he, along with Jay Harrison, played the most minutes on defense last night against the Rangers. Let's see how Kaberle does when he's not protected as much as he has been this year.
Also of note is Paul Maurice hinting that Eric Staal could see some time at wing tonight. I'm all for trying anything at this rate because Staal just can't seem to find his way onto the score sheet no matter what. His underlying numbers have improved a lot in the past couple weeks but the results haven't come yet so why not shake things up a bit? Everyone's guess is that Brandon Sutter will center his line and I like that idea because Sutter has a lot of offensive potential but he has been used in a more defensive role ever since being on the Hurricanes. Let's see how he does when he's not buried with defensive zone starts for a change. His 21-goal season a couple years ago was mostly due to a high shooting percentage but he's a great skater and has shown some goal-scoring ability so I'm all for giving this a shot. Carolina is going to need all the help they can get against Pittsburgh tonight.
Lines, analysis and more after the jump