One night, Zach Boychuk is scoring a hat trick to help the Charlotte Checkers win an AHL game. The next night, he's on the Canes' top line.
"Pretty exciting, isn't it?" a smiling Boychuk said today.
The Canes needed Boychuk in the lineup tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs to replace winger Patrick Dwyer, who was injured in Saturday's game in Pittsburgh. He was recalled from the Checkers on an emergency basis; Dwyer has a lower-body injury and is day to day.
Boychuk had the hat trick Sunday as the Checkers took a 9-5 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the East Division leader, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. He hopped a flight to Raleigh after the game and was on a line with Eric Staal and Erik Cole at today's morning skate at the RBC Center.
Sergei Samsonov was on Brandon Sutter's line at the skate.
"We're going to move him around," Canes coach Paul Maurice said of Boychuk. "But he had big night last night and I like the way he has played here. ... We've got some good, young players we think can play in our top nine.
"There are times for them to come in and play on the fourth line, but I don't think in the whole game it makes any sense for us to do that. We've got to get our young kids out and playing and we've had some success doing it."
The Maple Leafs are 19-23-5 overall but are 6-4-1 in their last 11 games. Early in the month they won consecutive road games against the Atlanta Thrashers, L.A. Kings and San Jose Sharks, although their last two road games have been bad losses -- 5-1 to the Phoenix Coyotes and then 7-0 to the New York Rangers.
"There are two more games before the (All-Star) break," the Canes' Eric Staal said today. "We want to make sure we get the points. It's a team below us, in Toronto, but we know they've got some offensive skill and can score goals, so we need to be aware defensively and try to take the game over early and go from there."
The Canes go on the road to face the New York Islanders on Wednesday in their final game before the break.