The Canes, who have not scored a goal in their first two home games at the RBC Center, are making some interesting line changes for the third.
Rookie Jeff Skinner has replaced Jussi Jokinen on Eric Staal's line and will be the left winger opposite Chad LaRose tonight against the New York Islanders. The Canes coaches had been reluctant to use Skinner on the top line, wanting the 18-year-old -- the youngest player in the NHL -- to continue to build confidence and not have to face top defensive pairs.
"Obviously for myself I wasn't creating enough offense the last couple of games," Staal said today. "This is a little bit of a change. He's an offensive guy with some great instincts. I look forward to it. ...
"He's a good kid. He's got a smile on his face. He competes, he works. ... That's all you can ask for out of a young guy."
Skinner leads the Canes in scoring with three goals and five assists (8). That's one point ahead of Staal, who has one assist in the last five games. Skinner will replaced on Tuomo Ruutu's line by Jussi Jokinen, who had been Staal's left winger but is without a point the last four games.
"The Ruutu line has been really good but we're going to look at moving different people around and get a little more offense on more than one line," coach Paul Maurice said today. "I think you're going to find a number of people moving in and out, not just on Staal's line but on that left side.
"(Skinner) controls the puck really well on offense. He has a great offensive instinct to find people or take it to the net himself. He can hang on to the puck and he makes very few mistakes. ... The fact of the matter is he’s our leading scorer.”
Skinner downplayed the line change, noting he has played some with Staal.
"Obviously he's a great player," Skinner said. "Hopefully we can get some good chemistry going and have a good game. ... The goal is to get a win in this building, so that's all the focus is on.
"They're all great players, so you can't go wrong. Me, Ruuty and Colesy seem to have a good chemistry. Hopefully me, Staaly and Rosey can find that tonight."
For Skinner, it's just another step in his development. He proved he was ready for the NHL, made the team and he's contributing. Now, he's on Staal's line, playing alongside the guy he sits next to in the Canes' locker room at the RBC Center.
"You just try to take it one step at a time and not get too far ahead of yourself," Skinner said. "Just stay composed.
"You don't want to get too up when you're up or too down when you're down because there's a bunch of ups and downs in a season. I've been through a couple of ups and downs and hopefully I can keep more of an even-keel."
Defenseman Joni Pitkanen, who had an upper-body injury during the Flyers game on Monday and left in the third period, was at today's morning skate at the RBC Center and will play tonight.
Patrick O'Sullivan will be a healthy scratch tonight for the second straight game. He has been scratched four of the last six.