The Carolina Hurricanes are back on the road again and they packed their slim playoff hopes with them as they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at 7 p.m. The Canes are telling anyone who will listen that they have not given up on the playoffs yet. The big question is though, do they have a legitimate shot?
The team has spent much of the season wallowing at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, but now they are one of the hottest teams in the league as they continue to battle every night. Is it too little too late?
According to NBC Sports Pro Hockey Talk, it will be if they lose tonight.
Regardless of how well they’ve played lately, if Carolina can’t beat the worst team in the NHL on Friday, then any chance of a Cinderella story will be all-but lost.
Kirk Muller is not pulling any punches and will be starting Cam Ward in this, the first game of another series of back-to-backs for Carolina. The boys will fly to Detroit after the game for a contest against the Red Wings Saturday night.
I would expect the Canes to stick with the same lines which have been successful of late:
- Tlusty, Staal, LaRose
- Ruutu, Jokinen, Skinner
- Dwyer, Sutter, Bowman
- Stewart, Brent, Nodl
- Harrison, Faulk
- Gleason, Allen
- McBain, Pitkanen
The Blue Jackets have had a very rough season and are still at the bottom of the West. They are 5-5-0 in their last 10 games. According to The Cannon, look for their lines to be as follows:
|Vinny Prospal||Mark Letestu||Rick Nash|
|R.J. Umberger||Derick Brassard||Cam Atkinson|
|Ryan Russell||Ryan Johansen||Derek Dorsett|
|Colton Gillies||Darryl Boyce||Jared Boll|
|Jack Johnson||David Savard|
|Nikita Nikitin||Brett Lebda|
|John Moore||Aaron Johnson|
The Hurricanes have lost to the Blue Jackets in the teams' last five meetings. Steve Mason is 3-0-0 career against Carolina while Cam Ward is 0-3-0 career against Columbus.
The Canes will be looking to extend their current winning streak to five games which would be the most consecutive wins for this franchise in two years. They have also scored at least a goal in each of the last 10 periods of play. Can they keep that streak up?
Tonight's game will be televised locally by FS Carolinas. We will have the open game thread ready to go at 6:30.