Hurricanes Record: 15-11-2 (32 pts.)
Panthers Record: 7-16-6 (20 pts.)
The Carolina Hurricanes have had a difficult time beating teams under them in the standings lately and they will face another one tonight as the last place Florida Panthers come to town for a match up at the PNC Arena. The injury plagued Panthers have lost four games in a row and are 1-7-2 in their last 10 games.
The Hurricanes are tied for first place in the Southeast Division with the Winnipeg Jets, but have a game in hand and can break that tie with some points earned tonight. Nothing comes easy for the Hurricanes though as they have lost three games in a row to hungrier teams.
The last time these two teams met, the Canes swept a home and home series from the Cats and defeated them soundly at home, 6-2. Carolina is 2-1 so far in the season series. This will be the final meeting of the regular season between these teams.
The Hurricanes announced today that they would have no morning skate and there are no updates about their lines or lineups. It is to be assumed that Justin Peters will start tonight though, since Dan Ellis played last night and coach Kirk Muller has indicated that he wants to platoon the goalies.
Will Muller stick with the lines from last night, or switch them up again? The second and third lines struggled with consistency against the Rangers, while the top line continues to generate chances and points. This is what the coach went with last night:
Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Alexander Semin
Drayson Bowman - Jordan Staal - Patrick Dwyer
Jeff Skinner - Riley Nash - Jussi Jokinen
Tim Wallace - Adam Hall - Kevin Westgarth
The defensive pairings seemed to be mixed and matched a bit between Joni Pitkanen, Justin Faulk, Tim Gleason, Jay Harrison, Bobby Sanguinetti, and Jamie McBain. Joe Corvo was out with a lower body concern.
The Carolina penalty kill has done very well of late, but the powerplay continues to be a disgrace. On home ice the team has the worst success rate in the NHL at a dismal 7.8%. Overall they are 29th in the league at 12.6%.
We will publish our three questions with the Panthers after lunch, so check back for that. If there is lineup information or anything else newsworthy, we will have an update and Brian and I will have our open game thread up and ready as usual starting at 6:30.