When defenseman Tim Gleason missed today's morning skate and the Canes recalled Jamie McBain from Albany (AHL), it seemed to be an indication Gleason would not play against the Bruins tonight.
Not so, coach Paul Maurice said.
"He's probably going to play tonight," Maurice said. "We expect him to play but we are going to call up McBain, just in case -- an insurance policy. And then there's also the chance we may play him.
"He's a puck-moving defenseman and we'd like to see him. It's a big game but at the same time he does some things that the other D don't do naturally.
"It's a game-time decision based a lot on how Timmy is feeling but I expect him to be in the lineup tonight."
If McBain plays, it will be his NHL debut. McBain, 22, is playing his first full professional season and leads the River Rats defensemen in scoring with 7 goals and 33 assists in 68 games. He was a second-round selection in the 2006 draft and played college hockey at Wisconsin.
With eight points and five teams separating the Canes and eighth-place Bruins, no one has to say how important tonight's game will be. Not with 14 games left in the season.
"It's pretty similar to the last couple of years," winger Sergei Samsonov said. "But this time around we dug ourselves a pretty big hole at the beginning that we've been trying to climb out of. We're playing one of the teams we're chasing, so it definitely feels like a playoff game."
Even with Brandon Sutter back, Maurice will keep Erik Cole on Eric Staal's line with Ray Whitney. Jussi Jokinen will be on the wing on Sutter's line opposite Tuomo Ruutu, with Chad LaRose moving to Pat Dwyer's line opposite Samsonov.
"We felt Cole with Staal against the Bruins has been a good match," Maurice said. "We like Jokinen on the wings and we also feel he has good chemistry with Ruutu. And Sutter's back, so there's a little defnsive component with two guys who can put the puck in the net.
"We'll move players around. I like Chad LaRose anywhere you play him. His offensive production come more when he's on the right side."