Carolina Hurricanes (6-9-3) at Montreal Canadiens (7-7-3)
Bell Centre, 7 p.m.
TV: TSN, RDS
This is one game I have been looking forward to all season because it marks the first time this year that the Hurricanes will face former teammate Erik Cole. I've said a lot about Cole this off-season and how I felt that Carolina can replace him because he wasn't much of a possession driver here and much of his success was dependant on Eric Staal. As you probably know, Carolina has yet to find a replacement for Cole and the wing position on the first line has been a carousel all season. This relates to the poor start Staal got off to (he's picked it up since November) and we're only a month into the season, so I stand by my initial statement.
The reason why I believe Cole's performance in Carolina is replaceable is because he posted very poor possession metrics last season despite playing on the first line. In the WOWY I did for Eric Staal, Cole's numbers were awful when he was playing without #12. Cole's shooting percentage was also higher than it ever was in 2010-11, so he was slightly lucky last season. I am willing to say that having Cole on Staal's wing would be nice right now but I still believe that replacing him should not be a big hassle.
Cole's performance in Montreal has completely reversed. He isn't having any bounces go his way (6.80 on-ice shooting%), but he has been one of Montreal's best forwards in terms of possession and scoring chances. Hindsight is 20/20, I suppose.
Lines, analysis & more after the jump