Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma was 10 seconds into his comments to the media today at the RBC Center when he said Brent Johnson would be the starting goaltender tonight.
He said it quickly, matter of factly, without any other comment on it.
An hour or so before, new Canes coach Kirk Muller was asked about his thoughts on handling the starter in goal and how many games he might like to use his backup goalie, in the Canes' case Brian Boucher.
"It really depends on the schedule," Muller said. "It's a tough question right now until I get into the schedule, the routine. Typically you've got to have your No. 1 guy rolling and we're lucky we have a great second goalie in (Boucher) who in his last game here, I was told, played really well."
Finally asked if Cam Ward would be in goal tonight against the Pens, Muller smiled and said everyone would find out tonight, as if a bit unsure if he should let out that information. Or maybe he was being coy. He is still learning on the fly in his first NHL head-coaching gig.
Most expect it will be Ward, who had 37 saves -- several of the spectacular variety -- as the Canes beat the Pens 5-3 on Nov. 12. That should be an easy call.
Muller was a little more open in discussing why defenseman Jamie McBain had been a healthy scratch in his first two games as coach.
"I came in and I said it's a clean slate for everybody," Muller said. "If that's the situation, I have to abide by it and let everybody start from scratch.
"I started by letting the veteran guys prove where they're at to me. You can't just do it one game or whatever. I said, 'Don't go on the fact I'm a new guy coming in (and) judging you by your play before.' I'm just giving the veterans the first crack and then we'll make judgment calls from there."
One veteran defenseman, Tomas Kaberle, is minus-3 in the two games. Another veteran, Bryan Allen, was minus-4 Thursday against the New York Rangers. A rookie, Justin Faulk, was plus-3 in Muller's first two games. Still, it's a very small sample set.
Defenseman Jay Harrison has been injured and not gotten his crack at it yet. He will not play tonight, missing his fifth straight game, and is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, Muller said.
Muller called off the morning skate today, which was odd timing in that the Hurricanes had their season ticket-holder "exclusive morning skate" scheduled. Muller said he did apologize to the fans who attended and were able to watch the Pens' skate.
"We'll have a makeup date for it," he said, laughing.
But Muller said he's not a "big fan" of morning skates, noting the Canes had a couple of high-tempo practices this week. "Save it for tonight," he said.
Pens center Jordan Staal said he expected to see an energetic Canes team, including his brother, Eric, who had the winning goal in the first game this season.
"With a new face behind the bench you always want to prove yourself to the new coach," Jordan Staal said. "They're after that first win (for Muller), too, so we're going to be up against a desperate team."
Sidney Crosby had not returned when the Pens last played the Canes -- watching from the press level at the RBC Center -- but will be on the ice tonight. Crosby has two goals and nine assists in his six games.
"That was a fast game, kind of felt like a playoff game, honestly," Crosby said. "It was pretty chippy. They were playing physical, fast hockey. We always try to play fast, too, and usually the result is pretty exciting hockey when we play each other. I would expect much of the same thing tonight."