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Canes vs Canadiens: Jordan Staal Returns

Jordan Staal is expected to make his season debut tonight, after missing three months with a broken fibula. Plus, the phoblographer takes a turn carrying the Canes Baton.

Carolina Hurricanes vs Montreal Canadiens
December 29, 2014 - 7:00 pm ET
PNC Arena - Raleigh, NC
TV - Fox Sports Carolinas
Radio - 99.9 FM The Fan
SB Nation Rival Blog - Eyes on the Prize

Fancy Stats

Hurricanes Canadiens
Record 10-21-4 22-11-2
Points 24 46
Division Rank 8th Metro 3rd Atlantic
Conference Rank 16th EC 5th EC
Streak Lost 1 Won 2

Power Play % 17.1% 15.3%
Penalty Kill % 84.7% 86.3%
Goals/Game 2.00 2.60
Goals Against/Game 2.63 2.37
Shots/Game 29.3 27.5
Shots Against/Game 28.0 30.2
ES Goals For % 40.5% 54.8%
ES Corsi For % 51.1% 49.7%
ES PDO 96.8 101.7
PIM/Game 7.8 11.0

Goaltender Ward Price
Record 9-13-2 19-9-1
ES Save Percentage .915 .934
GAA 2.42 2.23

Goaltender Khudobin Tokarski
Record 1-8-2 3-2-1
ES Save Percentage .903 .910
GAA 2.71 2.44

Game Notes

  • Jordan Staal is back. I repeat, Jordan Staal is back. Now granted, as of this preview, he hasn't technically been activated from injured reserve, but that's [hopefully] a formality at this point. Per term sources, he's expected to be back in the line-up tonight (UPDATE: now officially activated from IR). After breaking his fibula in a preseason game on September 23rd, Jordan's recovery was projected to take three to four months, and he's on the early side of that window. He first took the ice on December 6th, and began practicing with the team on December 11th. He'll start tonight's game centering brother Eric Staal along with Nathan Gerbe.
  • Not to be missed, the Canes should be getting another top six forward back tonight with the return of Jiri Tlusty, who missed seven games with an upper body injury. Despite his absence, Tlusty leads the team in goals (10) and is the only Canes player in double digits. Tlusty will start on a line with Victor Rask and Chris Terry, but after yesterday's practice, head coach Bill Peters said he expected to monitor both returning forwards closely on their ice time and adjust lines fluidly as the game progressed.
  • Jay McClement did not practice yesterday, but there was no indication he would be out for tonight's game, so expect him in the line-up. Alexander Semin and Andrej Nestrasil did not practice and are still day-to-day with their injuries.
  • With that said, the Canes will ice a different (and hopefully better) line-up than the one that lost to the Canadiens just two weeks ago in Montreal. Jeff Skinner scored the lone goal for the Canes, but otherwise it was the Alex Galchenyuk show as the forward scored his first career hat trick and the Canadiens prevailed for a 4-1 win.
  • With all the fanfare around Jordan's return, it's important to note that his older brother, captain Eric Staal, is playing in his 800th career NHL game tonight.
  • The Canes come into tonight's game off yet another 2-1 loss, this latest on Saturday night against the Lightning in Tampa. Including overtime and shootouts, the Canes have lost 15 games this season by one goal. Related, in almost half their games played (17 out of 35), they have scored one goal or less.
  • The Canadiens have not played since the holiday break, and they've been in Raleigh for a couple of days, practicing at PNC Arena on Saturday and at RCI on Sunday. They won their last two games heading into the break, and start a four-game road swing tonight.
  • The Habs have been rather mediocre on the season with a man advantage, 23rd in the league with a 15.3% success rate. They went 0-for-5 against the Canes on December 16th. However, in their last five games they've converted at a 23.5% rate (4-for-17) which would rank them among the league leaders.
  • Max Pacioretty leads the Canadiens with 27 points (13g, 14a) and has five points (all assists) in his last four games. Alex Galchenyuk has continued his hot streak since his hat-trick performance against the Canes, with seven points (4g, 3a) in his last four games.
  • Former Cane Bryan Allen has been out with an illness but did practice yesterday, though his status for tonight's game remains questionable.
  • The Habs' most valuable player is certainly goaltender Carey Price, and he's confirmed to get the start in net tonight. Price is tied for third in the league in wins (19) and is ranked second in total saves (804) and is 10-5-2 lifetime against the Canes with two shutouts and a 2.35 GAA.

Projected line-ups

Hurricanes (from Sunday's practice)

Eric Staal - Jordan Staal - Nathan Gerbe
Jeff Skinner - Riley Nash - Elias Lindholm
Chris Terry - Victor Rask - Jiri Tlusty
Zach Boychuk - Brad Malone - Patrick Dwyer
Jay McClement

Andrej Sekera - Justin Faulk
Tim Gleason - Michal Jordan
Ron Hainsey - John-Michael Liles
Brett Bellemore

Cam Ward
Anton Khudobin

Injuries and Scratches: Andrej Nestrasil (IR upper body), Alexander Semin (upper body)

Canadiens (from Sunday's practice)

David Desharnais - Tomas Plekanec - P.A. Parenteau
Max Pacioretty - Alex Galchenyuk - Brendan Gallagher
Jiri Sekac - Lars Eller - Brandon Prust
Michael Bournival - Manny Malhotra - Dale Weise
Sven Andrighetto

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban
Sergei Gonchar - Nathan Beaulieu
Alexei Emelin - Tom GIlbert
Mike Weaver - Bryan Allen

Carey Price
Dustin Tokarski

Finally, on a more personal note, I'll be carrying the Canes Baton today. For those unfamiliar, the Canes Baton is a social media project that chronicles a 'day in the life' of a Canes fan on Instagram during home games this season. Check out the Canes Baton on twitterFacebook, and Instagram for updates throughout the day, and if you're interested, there are a few open spots available for remaining games, apply on the Canes Baton web page.  Here's my first post. I look forward to sharing my day and hope folks enjoy it. See you at the rink tonight.