The Canes haven't played in a week. I'm sure the guys are anxious to get back on the ice, and I know the fans are ready so see the boys again.
However, the restlessness has a little more to do with the Blueshirts than it has to do with the All-Star break. The last time these two teams squared off, Matt Cullen left the game with a concussion after a hard high hit from Colton Orr. Later in the game, Andrew Ladd suffered a broken orbital bone after he was sucker-punched by Sean Avery while the linesmen were restraining Ladd.
Carolina spent the better part of 05-06, the entirety of 06-07, and the first half of this season without an "enforcer", but that game changed it all. Wade Brookbank, the 6'4" 227 lb enforcer, was recalled from Albany the next day. Since then, he has made his presence known. He isn't getting much ice time, but his time is short and to the point.
Peter Laviolette is more concerned about getting the two standings points tonight and hasn't told his players to "even the score" or anything like that. According to LSB, he has expressly forbidden Andrew Ladd from fighting.
However, Brookbank is in the lineup, and Laviolette says the boys will be ready for whatever happens.
Defenseman Tim Gleason echoed the sentiment :
"We don’t want to focus on one particular person. We want to focus on beating them to pucks. If they want to goon it up, we have no problem doing that, but that’s not the way we play.
We’re just a hard-working team. When it comes down to it, if they want to get gritty, we’ll get gritty back.... If we have to muck it up, we’ll muck it up."
I won't be at the game. I'll be watching from home on Center Ice. I'm hoping that the RBC Center faithful give Sean Avery a not-so-warm welcome.
Secondary to all that piss and vinegar stuff, Eric Staal will be trying to beat his little brother Mark.
A tertiary rallying point is that Matt Cullen will be going against the team who never made him feel like he was a welcome addition to the team.
Although I would love to see Avery get his ass whipped, I'm not anticipating any fireworks. Just a good game.
In the near future, I plan to write a very boring piece about the naming rights of the NHL Arenas. Some of them aren't as funny as you think.