SB Nation Rival Blog: The Cannon
Hurricanes Record: 29-30-9 | 67 pts | 7th Metro | 13th EC
Blue Jackets Record: 35-26-6 | 76 pts | 3rd Metro | 7th EC
Games Remaining: 14
Minimum Points Needed: 91
Points Back: 24 (1.71 points/game)
Playoff Chances (Sports Club Stats): 0.8%
Tragic Number: 20
The Hurricanes and Blue Jackets meet tonight for the fourth of five scheduled appearances this season. Columbus won the first two games and Carolina won the third, a 3-2 win at PNC Arena on January 27th. But the Hurricanes have to go all the way back to March 8, 2004 in order to find their last win on the road in Columbus.
Tonight begins a three-game road trip that will see the Canes also face the Blackhawks and Jets before returning to Raleigh. The Hurricanes arrive in Columbus hoping to snap a two-game losing streak, their latest a 2-1 loss to the Oilers at home on Sunday afternoon.
The Blue Jackets are 6-3-1 in their last ten games and are coming off a 2-1 shootout win against the Wild on Saturday night. They currently hold a playoff spot with third place in the Metro division, one point behind the Flyers and tied in points with the Rangers but with fewer games played. They are on pace for 93 points which would be a franchise record (current record is 92 from 2008-09), and are playing sound hockey with exceptional goaltending, stable defense, and a good foundation of forwards that are able to provide solid scoring. Check out the Melrose Minute on how Columbus has built their team the "right way" [nhl.com].
Blake Comeau is expected to be back tonight after serving a two-game suspension, but it's undecided who he will replace in the lineup. No other lineup changes are expected. Sergei Bobrovsky is confirmed in net, coming off his announcement as the NHL's first star for this past week. Bob was 2-0-1 with a 1.58 GAA and .950 save percentage in three games last week. Artem Anisimov has been on a tear since returning from the Olympics, earning NHL second star honors for the prior week. Anisimov has four game-winning goals in March and seven points in his last eight games.
Head coach Todd Richards spoke with the media after the team practice on Monday [CBJ.com video].
The Canes practiced at RCI yesterday before flying out to Columbus. Jiri Tlusty (lower body) missed the Oilers game Sunday, didn't practice, and won't be in the line-up tonight, although Kirk Muller didn't rule out the possibility of a return later this week. Radek Dvorak left Sunday's game early but was at practice. John-Michael Liles (concussion) skated with the team in a no-contact jersey and remains out of the lineup.
Alexander Semin didn't practice yesterday but it was explained as a maintenance day and he's expected be in the lineup tonight, and if so it will mark his 100th game played as a Hurricane. Sasha had a seven-game point streak broken Sunday but is leading the NHL in goals scored since January 18th with 13 goals.
Jordan Staal did keep his point streak going, scoring the lone goal in Sunday's loss. Staal the younger now has nine points (3g, 6a) in his last six games.
Muller apparently had strong words for his team at the end of yesterday's practice where he challenged the players' commitment to a culture change, per reports from Chip Alexander [N&O]. He was more subdued in his post-practice comments to the media [audio].
After practice the Hurricanes announced that forward Chris Terry will be called up from Charlotte to accompany the team on their road trip [ch.com]. Terry played in seven games earlier in the season, and tallied a beauty of a shootout winner against the Anaheim Ducks on November 15th. Terry has been a point-per-game player this season (56 points in 56 games, tied with Zach Boychuk for the team lead), and his call-up will leave a void for the Checkers, who are in the midst of a playoff race [gocheckers.com].
Finally, it's certainly a good idea for the Hurricanes to continue to reach out to cultivate new fans, especially in light of the recent on-ice struggles. They might actually be on to something here.
We'll have the game thread ready to roll by 6:30 pm. See you there.