RALEIGH, N.C. -- Paul Mara took a brief twirl during the morning skate at the RBC Center, but the defenseman will not play tonight because of a deep left thigh contusion. It will be the second straight game Mara will miss.
* Tim Thomas will start tonight. The coaches worked with Hannu Toivonen at the end of the skate, with Marc Habscheid and Doug Houda cranking slappers and Dave Lewis waiting on the doorstep for any rebounds. "He's working really hard," Lewis said of Toivonen. "We had some drills from [goalie coach] Bob Essensa and we threw in a few of our own. He's working on it every day."
* Mara, who was walking with a heavy limp this morning, was at the rink early for treatment along with Jason York (knees) and P.J. Axelsson (left foot).
* Brad Boyes is looking to score his fourth goal in four games. "Knock on wood," said Boyes. The right wing said he's felt much more comfortable during his scoring streak, which started against Toronto last Saturday.
* Some neat stuff in the Carolina locker room. In the runway, there's a sign that reads. "It's not about me... It's about the guy in front of me!" There's also a framed print, with the Stanley Cup as the background image, that reads, "We are the Carolina Hurricanes/ We are a team/ We will never quit/ We will never leave a fallen comrade/ We will win as a team and lose as a team/ We will defend what is ours/ We are the Carolina Hurricanes/ We are a team/ We live by this..."
* You can take the boy away from Dunkin', but you can't take the Dunkin' away from the boy. Franklin homeboy Peter Laviolette has brought Dunkin' Donuts from its New England cradle down to the RBC Center. "You mean this [dramatic pause] coffee of choice?" mugged Laviolette, when NESN reporter Rob Simpson asked if he got a cut of the Dunkin' account (they advertise at the rink). "No. I wish. I have my own franchise here in the locker room. I have 25 select clients."
* An update on Joel Prpic, mentioned by linemate Kevin Paul Dupont several Sundays ago: The ex-Bruin and St. Lawrence alum is skating for the Seibu Prince Rabbits, confirmed by this space's Tokyo correspondent (my younger sister). The more talented Shinzawa, who scouted the Rabbits vs. South Korea's Anyang Halla, said it was one of the calmest games she's ever seen.
* Expected Boston lineup: