The Thrashers will start Johan Hedberg in goal for tonight’s game in Carolina. He will face Manny Legace. Cam Ward is back from injury for the Canes but will backup Legace Saturday and start in Atlanta on Monday.
Forward Tim Stapleton arrived from AHL Chicago and will be in the lineup tonight, centering Jim Slater and Colby Armstrong.
“They are in a situation where they are trying to fight for a playoff spot and that’s fun, Stapleton said. “I’m just going to do what I can do.
“I’m more of a skill guy. I just try to create a lot of offense. Obviously, I’m a little guy so I try to use my speed as my asset. I just create, make a lot of plays, play good defensively and do whatever I can to help.”
Stapleton, 5-foot-9, 160 pounds, said he got the call up just as he was preparing to take a pre-game nap for the Wolves game against Rockford on Friday. The 27-year old had 58 points (29 goals, 29 assists) for Chicago this season. He made his NHL debut last season, appearing in four games with the Maple Leafs.
“I know it was just four games, but I learned a lot. It makes this a little bit easier,” said Stapleton, who was not informed how long he may stay with the Thrashers. “I’m just going to take it a game at a time. I’ll play a shift at a time and play it like it might be my last. I just want to do whatever I can.”
Thrashers coach John Anderson said the team wanted a centerman so that Jim Slater could play on the wing.
“We feel like Jimmy is more effective on the wing. He’s one of our few guys that really forechecks hard but if he’s in our zone fighting for the puck he’s not effective on the forecheck because he’s behind the play a little bit usually and probably a little tired.”
As in practice Friday, Bryan Little has been moved up to the top line with Niclas Bergfors and Nik Antropov. Maxim Afinogenov will skate with Clarke MacArthur and Rich Peverley. The fourth line will be Evgeny Artyukhin, Marty Reasoner and Chris Thorburn, who returns from a six-game absence.
The Thrashers played with 11 forwards and seven defensemen in Thursday’s loss to the Maple Leafs.
Slava Kozlov and Eric Boulton are the forward scratches. Chris Chelios is out on defense.