The last time these two teams met on December 16th, the Hurricanes walked away with a 3-2 shootout win over Chris Mason and the Thrashers. The last time the Thrashers played, however, the score was not nearly as close. The Maple Leafs blew the Thrashers out Friday night by a score of 9-3. Five goals came when Ben Eager was sitting in the penalty box; four of those five came on his match penalty called after he suckerpunched Colby Armstrong with his glove on.
As a reward, Eager was suspended for four games. This isn't the Thrashers losing an impact player; at worst, it's them losing a guy who supplies size. The real issue is that the Team is short a skill guy in Fredrik Modin, the team's top forward in Evander Kane, and the team's top face-off guy in Jim Slater. They'll be replaced by Tim Stapleton and Spencer Machacek of the Chicago Wolves. Machacek has played two games with the Thrashers, both in the 2008-2009 season. He has fourteen goals and nineteen assists so far this year for the Wolves, after finishing last season with 49 points (20-29-49).
The Carolina Hurricanes are five points behind the Montreal Canadiens for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. They're an impressive 5-3-2 in their past ten games, but the last three times that Atlanta's visited the RBC Center they've won. Atlanta's 6-3-1 in their past ten road games, but have lost five of the last seven home games. Maybe getting out and about'll be good for the team. It's a crapshoot for who to start in goal, as Chris Mason has better stats against Carolina than Ondrej Pavelec does, but neither goalie played well Friday night. Both are surely looking for a chance to redeem themselves, but chances are good that Pavelec will get the start.