Hockey Stuff: Plenty of Story Lines in Tonight’s Game

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UPDATE: Canes get four power-play goals in 7-1 romp over Leafs 

Take your pick: there are plenty of great story lines for tonight’s Carolina Hurricanes/Toronto Maple Leafs matchup, set for 7 p.m. at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. It’s the only game in the NHL today.

– The Leafs’ Jason Blake, one of the off-season’s hottest free agents after scoring 40 goals for the New York Islanders, signed a five-year, $20 million contract with Toronto in July. On Monday, he announced he has a rare but treatable form of leukemia. Blake will treat the condition with pills and isn’t expected to miss playing time, but the diagnosis was still a shock. The home crowd no doubt will give him a rousing welcome tonight.

– Long-time Leafs captain Mats Sundin has 390 career goals and 915 career points – and tonight may pass Toronto legend Darryl Sittler’s marks for all-time points (Sittler had 916) and goals (both have 390) among Toronto players. Sittler, the only player in NHL history to score 10 points in a single game, is still immensely popular in Toronto and will be on hand tonight in case Sundin breaks one or both records.

– It’s a televised game. After the Canes’ home-opener was blacked-out, tonight’s game will be shown nationally on the Versus network.

– Both teams started the season 1-1-1 and need a win. Carolina has look particularly unspectacular in its three games, but they were played over a four-night stretch and the Canes were obviously tired in a listless 2-0 loss to the Capitals Saturday.

– Who’s healthy? Cory Stillman, injured in a fender-bender prior to the season’s opening night, should make his season debut tonight. Bret Hedican has been down with the flu, Mike Commodore (sore hip) didn’t play in Saturday’s loss and Andrew Ladd (ankle) is also ailing.

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