SB Nation Rival Blog: Lighthouse Hockey
Hurricanes Record: 31-31-9 | 71 pts | 7th Metro | 12th EC
Islanders Record: 27-35-9 | 63 pts | 8th Metro | 14th WC
Games Remaining: 11
Minimum Points Needed: 91
Points Back: 20 (1.92 points/game)
Playoff Chances (Sports Club Stats): 1.1%
Tragic Number: 14
The Hurricanes and Islanders will face each other tonight for the last time this season, and the Hurricanes are hoping to complete the season sweep, having won the three previous. Interestingly enough, all three wins were by one-goal margins and each win featured a different Canes goaltender in net: Cam Ward (4-3) on October 19th; Justin Peters (1-0) on November 7th; and Anton Khudobin (3-2) on January 4th.
The Islanders are all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, but enjoying the role of spoiler, most recently blanking the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-0 on Sunday at Nassau Coliseum with goals from Cal Clutterbuck and Travis Hamonic, and a 41-save night from Evgeni Nabokov for his 58th career shutout. The Isles are on a two-game road trip and they'll head from Raleigh to face Tampa Bay. They have won 12 of their last 17 road games.
In roster news, the Islanders just signed enforcer Eric Boulton to a one-year contract extension. Boulton is out for the season after breaking his hand in a fight on March 4th. Lubomir Visnovsky has also left the lineup again, after suffering from a recurrence of concussion symptoms. There is no estimated timeframe for his return. Michael Grabner is also out with a concussion and is listed as day-to-day.
The Hurricanes return home having won two out of three on the road, their most recent a 3-2 win over the Jets in Winnipeg. Despite that, they've made no progress in the standings and are to the point where with eleven games left they basically have to win out in order to even maintain a sliver of a chance (so noted in the Sports Club Stats).
Kirk Muller shifted the lines in-game on Saturday, moving Nathan Gerbe to a line with Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin, and moving Eric Staal to wing on a line with Andrei Loktionov and Jiri Tlusty. Those lines appear to be intact for tonight based on yesterday's practice. Drayson Bowman stood in for Gerbe, who was out with an illness but is expected to play tonight. Ryan Murphy (upper body) has shed the no-contact jersey and is cleared to play, but is still officially listed as day-to-day.
Congratulations to Riley Nash who will be playing in his 100th career NHL game tonight.
Yesterday's big roster news was the signing of Justin Faulk to a six-year, $29 million contract extension, locking up the young defenseman through 2020. Here are a few click-worthy items commemorating the occasion:
- Tracking the Storm - Six More Years [ch.com, includes link to Rink Report].
- Obligatory shot of Faulk signing his contract [Instagram].
- Audio interview with Adam Gold and Joe Ovies [WRALSportsFan].
- What makes Justin Faulk's contract a good one? Sean Gentile offers his analysis [Sporting News].
- And a few well-wishes via twitter from current and former teammates:
Congrats to @JustinFaulk27 on being Rich! Well deserved pal.— Tim Brent (@Brenter37) March 24, 2014
Anthony Stewart (@StuMunrue) March 24, 2014
Of course, rocking the non-roster news yesterday was the word from general manager Jim Rutherford that he is considering a change at the helm. There were only snippets, but powerful chatter nonetheless.
Rutherford on offseason priorities: "I'm really looking more at my situation & who makes those hockey decisions going forward."— Michael Smith (@MSmithCanes) March 24, 2014
- Rutherford expected to give up Canes duties at end of season [N&O].
- Elliotte Friedman speculates about potential off-season moves in his 30 Thoughts [cbc.ca]
- Puck Daddy weighs in [Yahoo Sports].
- From Mike Maniscalco, includes comments from Chuck Kaiton [WRALSportsFan].
- Chuck Kaiton audio interview with Adam Gold and Joe Ovies [WRALSportsFan].
- Bob McKenzie's comments [NHL Live].
It's St. Baldrick's Night in the arena, and participants who are willing to shave their heads in support of research for childhood cancers can be rewarded for their good deeds with free tickets to tonight's game. For details visit the St. Baldrick's promotions page.
We'll have the game thread ready to roll by 6:30 pm. See you there.