Carolina Hurricanes vs Boston Bruins
November 18, 2013 - 7:00 pm ET
PNC Arena - Raleigh, NC
TV - Fox Sports Carolinas
Radio - 99.9 The Fan
SB Nation Rival Blog: Stanley Cup of Chowder (twitter @cupofchowdah)
Hurricanes Record: 8-8-4 (20 pts.)
Bruins Record: 12-6-1 (25 pts.)
After facing tough Western Conference opponents in the last four games, the Hurricanes face a more familiar Eastern Conference rival tonight. That said, the luck of the draw is that team just happens to be one of the best of the East, the Boston Bruins.
At the 20-game mark, the Canes sit at an exact .500 pace with 20 points. They have faced one of the toughest early schedules in the league, by most measures. According to the stats site PlayoffStatus.com, the Canes have played the most difficult schedule of any team in the Eastern Conference based on opponent strength. A quick look at the current standings reveal that 16 of the Canes first 20 games were played against opponents that are currently in a playoff spot.
This week doesn't get any easier, as the Canes will play three out of the next four against current playoff contenders, facing the Bruins twice (home and away), the Red Wings in Detroit, and the Senators at home next Sunday.
As of the post time on this preview there are a lot of unanswered questions going into tonight's game.
Alexander Semin sustained a hard hit from St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo that caused an early departure in Saturday night's 4-2 loss. He received medical evaluation for an upper body injury on Sunday and his status is unknown.
Injured players Cam Ward, Anton Khudobin, Jeff Skinner, Kevin Westgarth, and Radek Dvorak all traveled with the team to St. Louis and practiced on Saturday but the team was off yesterday and did not skate. There is no word yet as to whether any of them will be back in the lineup. The Canes were already short a forward Saturday night (Mike Komisarek played fourth line as seventh defenseman) before Semin left the game, so if none of the injured forwards are able to return, a call-up may be on his way from Charlotte.
Ryan Murphy was a healthy scratch Saturday but is highly likely to return to tonight's game. Who he replaces with seven other available healthy defensemen is an outstanding question.
Justin Peters will likely see his eleventh straight start in net. While Pete Dawg (along with the entire team) had a rocky start after the injury to Cam Ward, he has been steadfast and has kept the team in a position to compete for wins. In 11 games he has 10 starts and is 4-6-1 with one shutout. His 2.35 GAA ranks 19th in the NHL, ahead of such notables as Roberto Luongo, Henrik Lundqvist, Corey Crawford, Jaroslav Halak, Braden Holtby, Jonas Hiller, and 2013 Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky. His .921 save percentage is 14th in the NHL which puts him ahead of Ryan Miller, Martin Brodeur, Marc-Andre Fleury, Cory Schneider, and the aforementioned Lundqvist and Bobrovsky.
The team will hold its morning skate at 10:30 am and we'll provide updates as they become available.
The Bruins are currently ranked second in the Eastern Conference, just three points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning with a game in hand. They were strong on the road to start the season, winning their first four, but now have lost their last three away games. They are facing the Hurricanes in the middle of a three-game road swing that started with a 4-2 loss in Ottawa Friday night; they'll finish up at MSG tomorrow night against the Rangers.
The Canes will see forwards Jarome Iginla and Loui Eriksson for the first time in Bruins uniforms. Iginla was acquired in off-season free agency and Eriksson was part of the trade that sent Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars. Eriksson has fit in well on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand and is riding a five game point streak including goals in his last two games.
It's certainly no surprise that forwards David Krejci and Milan Lucic lead the Bruins in points, but sitting third in their scoring ranks is diminutive defenseman Torey Krug, who burst onto the scene with an outstanding rookie performance in the 2013 playoffs. Krug was an invitee to the Hurricanes prospect camp in 2011 and was courted by many teams before signing with the Bruins in 2012. Krug has 12 points on the season (6 goals, 6 assists), which puts him ahead of the entire Hurricanes roster in both points and goals.
Defenseman Adam McQuaid has missed three games with a lower body injury and did not travel with the team to Raleigh.
Some reports have hinted that Chad Johnson could be starting in net tonight, but there has been no official word yet from head coach Claude Julien. Tuukka Rask had a mediocre showing against the Senators Friday night, giving up four goals in the loss, but he is solid on the season with a 10-5-1 record, 1.68 GAA and .943 save percentage. Johnson is 2-1-0 with a 2.30 GAA and .917 save percentage.
The Bruins practiced at PNC yesterday and posted practice notes and video. Here's how they lined up:
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Loui Eriksson/Jordan Caron
Carl Soderberg - Chris Kelly - Reilly Smith
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara - Dougie Hamilton
Dennis Seidenberg - Torey Krug
Matt Bartkowski - Johnny Boychuk
We'll have the open game thread ready to roll at 6:30 pm. See you at the rink.