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Up next: Erik Cole, Eric Staal and the Carolina Hurricanes

[SBN Carolina Hurricanes blog - Canes Country]

To put it gently, the Carolina Hurricanes are struggling this season.  Posting records of 2-7-3 in October and 3-10-2 in November, the Canes find themselves with a league-worst 17 points that may already have the team sitting in a position that is far beyond repair.  But hey, injuries can do that to a team, especially when sustained by a team's starting goaltender.

Carolina have been without Cam Ward since November 7th when the Team Canada hopeful met Columbus's Rick Nash in an awkward skate-through-pads collision.  I know we covered it here as part of a links post, but if you haven't seen the injury yet here's the link to a clip on YouTube.  I'm not 100% sure of his progress as of late.  If I recall correctly the initial prognosis called for Ward to be out up to three weeks, so that timetable has already been extended.  Obviously our friends over at Canes Country could fill ya in more on that.

In the meantime, Carolina will continue to rely on Manny Legace and Michael Leighton in net, more so the former than the latter.  Legace is 3-4-2 since joining up with the Canes a little over a month ago, while Leighton is just 1-4.

The month of December has already kicked off on the right foot for Carolina, as the Canes took down the Canucks 5-3 on Saturday night.  Erik Cole picked up a hat trick as part of his first multi-goal performance of the year that also, in one night, doubled his season total.  He now has six goals, pinning him in a four-way tie for second most on the team. 

Other names you want to keep an eye on: Ray Whitney (7g, 11a), Matt Cullen (7g, 9a) and Tuomo Ruutu (6g, 11a).  You may also know of some sort of Staal brother who missed most of November with an injury.  His 11 point total shouldn't be overlooked, especially since he's registered six of those 11 over the last five games.

Puck and thread drop at 7:30.  Come by and chat it up as the Pens look to extend the point streak to nine.