Hurricanes Record: 13-12-5 (31 pts.)
Canucks Record: 17-10-5 (39 pts.)
The Canes and Canucks met a mere eight days ago, in a Sunday afternoon matinee at PNC Arena. It was not a pleasant outcome for the home team, and the game was never as closely matched as the 3-2 final score would indicate. To sum it up, there were a lot of passengers wearing red New Storm jerseys, and the 0-6 effort on the power play was a particular low point. So what has happened since last Sunday?
Vancouver has moved up to fourth in the Pacific Division. Starting with the win over the Canes last Sunday, their win streak is now four straight including a 3-1 home win last night against the Colorado Avalanche that didn't appear to be an overly taxing effort. The Canucks did not score on the power play against the Avs, snapping a seven-game streak where they had logged at least one power play goal. They remain the number one penalty killing team in the NHL, with an 89.3% success rate.
The Canucks come into tonight's game on the back end of a back-to-back and three-in-four scenario, so they will not practice today and will likely ice a similar lineup to last night's game. Roberto Luongo started in net last night and was 7.1 seconds away from a shutout, stopping 28 shots. Eddie Lack was in net for the win against the Canes last Sunday and may get a chance for a repeat performance.
Mark Santorelli is coming off his first career three-point night, and Jason Garrison is riding a four game points streak.
Alexander Edler has been sidelined with a lower body injury and is listed as day-to-day, joining Jordan Schroeder who is out with an ankle injury. Andrew Alberts has been in the lineup to replace Edler on defense, and Yannick Weber has been called up as well but sat out Sunday's game.
The Canes have moved up to third in the Metro division after having won three in a row, the most recent a 5-3 home win on Friday against the San Jose Sharks. Credit a renewed offense, which started clicking into place the day after the loss to the Canucks, when head coach Kirk Muller made a line change decision that united Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner, and Tuomo Ruutu. In three games the trio has combined for 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists) including a power play goal. Credit also the return of Andrej Sekera, who missed two games with an upper body injury. Sekera logged a point in each of the last three games, including a power play goal, and leads the team in points from a defenseman in addition to solidifying the blue line with Justin Faulk.
There has been a lot of roster shuffling over the last week due to injuries, and here's how things are sorting out as the team left Raleigh Saturday to start a four-game Western Conference road trip (note, the Canes practiced Sunday in Vancouver but it's unknown as of this morning whether or not they will have a morning skate):
- Brett Bellemore left the game against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday after taking a hit from Tom Wilson that left him with whiplash symptoms. He has missed the last two games but traveled with the team and practiced yesterday in a no-contact jersey, so he could return to the ice during the road trip.
- Patrick Dwyer (stick to the face) and Drayson Bowman (puck to the leg) both suffered injuries in Thursday's game against the Nashville Predators and missed Friday's game, but both practiced yesterday and should be able to play tonight.
- Mike Komisarek entered the lineup Thursday in place of Brett Bellemore but suffered a lower body injury and has been placed on injured reserve. Tim Gleason returned to the lineup in his place Friday.
- Last but not least, Zach Boychuk made good on a one-day emergency call-up for Friday's game, notching an assist, but has returned to Charlotte since Bowman and Dwyer appear ready to return.
On the longer term injury front, both Alexander Semin (IR, concussion) and Anton Khudobin (IR, ankle) traveled with the team and practiced yesterday (Semin in a no-contact jersey). It's possible one or both could be activated during the road trip.
Canes projected line-up based on Sunday's practice:
Jeff Skinner - Eric Staal - Tuomo Ruutu
Nathan Gerbe - Jordan Staal - Elias Lindholm
Jiri Tlusty - Riley Nash - Patrick Dwyer
Drayson Bowman - Manny Malhotra - Radek Dvorak
Andrej Sekera - Justin Faulk
Jay Harrison - Tim Gleason
Ron Hainsey - Ryan Murphy
Canucks projected line-up based on Sunday's game:
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Jannik Hansen
Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - Mike Santorelli
David Booth - Brad Richardson - Dale Weise
Tom Sestito - Zac Dalpe - Zack Kassian
Dan Hamhuis - Christopher Tanev
Ryan Stanton - Kevin Bieksa
Andrew Alberts - Jason Garrison
We'll have the open game thread up and rolling by 9:30 pm. See you there. Don't forget your caffeinated beverages.