Carolina Hurricanes vs Nashville Predators
December 2, 2014 - 7:00 pm ET
PNC Arena - Raleigh, NC
TV - Fox Sports Carolinas
Radio - 99.9 FM The Fan
SB Nation Rival Blog - On The Forecheck
|Division Rank||7th Metro||1st Central|
|Conference Rank||15th EC||1st WC|
|Streak||Lost 1||Won 4|
|Power Play %||22.1%||12.2%|
|Penalty Kill %||83.1%||77.4%|
|ES Goals For %||42.2%||65.3%|
|ES Corsi For %||51.9%||53.8%|
|ES Save Percentage||.911||.946|
|ES Save Percentage||.898||.949|
Stats via NHL.com and War on Ice
- The Hurricanes start December with four home games over the span of the next week. They'll need to take advantage of home ice in the win column if they stand a glimmer of hope to move up in the standings.
- Their first December opponent certainly won't make that chore easy. The Canes swept their two-game series with the Nashville Predators last season, but the 2014-15 version of the Predators sits at the top of the Western Conference, and tied with the Penguins for the best record in the league per games played. They come into tonight's game on a four-game winning streak, with two players awarded league honors in November. Goaltender Pekka Rinne was the NHL's Third Star for the month of November, with six straight wins, and Filip Forsberg was named NHL's Rookie of the Month.
- If you compare the Canes and Predators head-to-head, the Preds are strong where the Canes are weak. They lead the league in five-on-five goal differential and giving up a league best 1.96 goals per game. Contrast that with the Canes who rank 27th at even strength and 24th in total goal scoring. Where the Preds are weak is in their special teams, ranking 26th on the power play and 24th on the penalty kill. That said, they compensate by logging the fewest penalty minutes in the NHL, so any man advantage will be brief.
- Not only do the Predators have two beasts on the back end with the tandem of Shea Weber and Roman Josi, but the duo is creating offense, with Weber logging nine points (2g, 7a) in his last eight games, while Josi has nine points (2g, 7a) in his last eleven games.
- Forsberg leads the Predators in scoring with 23 points (10g, 13a). The Preds have a number of veteran forwards who have fared well against the Canes over the years, including Olli Jokinen (59 points in 61 games), Derek Roy (30 points in 29 games) and James Neal (13 points in 13 games). Roy and former Hurricane Matt Cullen have been in and out of the line-up recently due to injuries. Cullen reentered the line-up Saturday, but Roy was out and is listed as day-to-day.
- There are familiar faces behind the Predators bench this season. With the departure of Barry Trotz over the summer after 15 years as head coach, former Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette has stepped in bringing a successful up-tempo style that has him in the early lead for the Jack Adams trophy. He's assisted by Kevin McCarthy who has been at Laviolette's side since 2003, including their tenures here with the Canes as well as behind the bench for the Flyers.
- The Canes practiced yesterday but if there were any major shake-ups in the forward lines or defensive pairings they weren't directly reported and should be more clearly understood after the morning skate. Bill Peters spoke in his post-practice audio about getting closer to a team identity, and mentioned several forward pairs that he felt had begun to work well together. He also talked about the need for players to be "hockey strong" (great phrase), to play big regardless of size and to be dialed in for a more complete 60-minute effort.
- Brett Bellemore remains out of the line-up with a lower body injury and did not practice yesterday. Fans received a bit of an update on Jordan Staal's recovery from a broken fibula. Jordan is now out of a boot and should be starting off-ice workouts this week. If all goes well (swelling, pain, etc.) he can begin on-ice workouts shortly, and from there can begin to join team practices.
- The Hurricanes player to watch tonight might be Jeff Skinner, a Preds killer last season with five points (4g, 1a) in two games, and eight points (4g, 4a) in five career games. I was reminded via twitter that last season, Skinner started the month of December with four goals, and ended the season with 33 goals.
- Justin Faulk, Victor Rask, Nathan Gerbe, Elias Lindholm, and Eric Staal all have points in their last two games.
- Neither team has declared a starting goaltender for tonight, but Cam Ward is expected to be in net to square off against Pekka Rinne.
- Happy Birthday to Elias Lindholm, who turns 20 today.
Hurricanes (from yesterday's practice)
Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Elias Lindholm
Nathan Gerbe - Riley Nash - Alexander Semin
Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Andrej Nestrasil
Zach Boychuk - Jay McClement - Patrick Dwyer
Andrej Sekera - Justin Faulk
Tim Gleason - Michal Jordan
Ron Hainsey - John-Michael Liles
Injuries: Jordan Staal (IR broken fibula), Brett Bellemore (IR lower body)
Predators (from yesterday's practice)
Filip Forsberg - Mke Ribeiro - James Neal
Colin Wilson - Calle Jarnkrok - Craig Smith
Matt Cullen - Mike Fisher - Olli Jokinen
Eric Nystrom - Paul Gaustad - Taylor Beck
Roman Josi - Shea Weber
Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis
Anton Volchenkov - Seth Jones
Injuries: Viktor Stalberg (IR lower body), Derek Roy (DTD upper body)
The Hurricanes white away jerseys will be making a rare appearance on home ice tonight. Good seats are still available. See you at the rink.