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Canes at Predators: Season Opener Preview

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Welcome to the 2015-16 Carolina Hurricanes hockey season. 82 games are lined up on the docket, might as well try to win them all, starting tonight.

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Jeff Skinner has 10 points in 7 games against the Predators.
Jeff Skinner has 10 points in 7 games against the Predators.
Jamie Kellner


Carolina Hurricanes at Nashville Predators
October 8, 2015 - 8:00 pm ET
Bridgestone Arena - Nashville, TN
Fox Sports Carolinas - 99.9 FM - WRALSportsFan app
SB Nation Rivals - On The Forecheck

Vital Statistics


Hurricanes Predators
Record 30-41-11 47-25-10
Points 71 104
Division Rank 8th Metro 2nd Central
Conference Rank 14th EC 3rd WC
Last 10 Games 4-5-1 4-4-2
Streak Lost 1 Lost 3



Goals/Game 2.23 2.76
Goals Against/Game 2.67 2.46
ES Goals For % 43.3% 56.2%
Shots/Game 30.8 31.9
Shots Against/Game 27.3 28.3
ES Corsi For % 52.4% 52.3%
Faceoff % 53.0% 48.9%
ES PDO 97.1 101.0
Power Play % (Rank) 18.8% (15) 16.2%
Penalty Kill % (Rank) 84.7% (4) 80.8%
PIM/Game 06:41 08:27



Goaltender #1 Ward Rinne
Record 22-24-5 41-17-6
ES Save % .914 .932
GAA 2.40 2.18



Goaltender #2 Lack (VAN) Hutton
Record 18-13-4 6-7-4
ES Save % .922 .909
GAA 2.45 2.61

*Stats note: Stats courtesy of nhl.com and War on Ice and are from 2014-15 season, current season statistics will resume after tonight's game

Game Notes

  • 2014-15 was a disappointment for the Hurricanes in most regards, but a few offseason roster changes, coupled with four straight wins to end the preseason, have generated momentum and a new enthusiasm on and off the ice.
  • Donning the sightless eye for the first time tonight:
    • Forwards Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom, acquired from the reigning champion Chicago Blackhawks a few days before the start of training camp.
    • On defense, veteran James Wisniewski was acquired at the draft by trade with the Anaheim Ducks, and will be joined by rookie Noah Hanifin, this year's first round draft pick who will make his NHL debut tonight.
    • In goal, Eddie Lack joins by draft-day trade with the Vancouver Canucks and after a strong showing in the preseason, was signed this past week to a two-year contract extension.
  • Exactly where the goals will come from remains a question mark. The Canes were near the bottom of the league last year in scoring, and the roster changes while solid are not a significant net up when it comes to adding proven scorers. So the goals will have to come from improvements in the system, along with improved puck luck. Coach Bill Peters is looking for continued growth in the ability to drive offense from the back end, with mobility and puck movement from his defensemen, and he is looking for incremental improvements from all forwards both at even strength and on the power play.
  • One forward under the microscope is Jeff Skinner, who is coming off a career-worst per game points average. Skinner had a very good preseason, ranking second in the NHL in shots taken (21), and leading the team with three goals in five games (also scored a goal in a 3-on-3 overtime exhibition that did not count toward the preseason score). Nashville may be the perfect opponent for Skinner to get off to a good start this season, in seven career games against the Predators, he has 10 points (5 goals, 5 assists). He'll be a key player to watch in tonight's game.
  • Perhaps helping in the luck department, at least to start the season, the Hurricanes are one of only three teams to be injury-free on their opening night roster. Ron Hainsey was previously dealing with an injury that kept him out of the last two preseason games, but he has been skating with the team all week and is ready to be back in the line-up.
  • Expectations are high in the Music City, where no one wants to be a one-hit wonder, and the Nashville Predators want to build off last season's success. After missing the playoffs two years in a row, they got off to a strong start and held the league's best record last season at the midway point. But after losing 15 of their last 21 games, they limped into the playoffs to be defeated in a hard-fought first round by the eventual champion Blackhawks. Their challenge in the Central Division looks just as tough this season. They are coming off a disappointing preseason finale, losing their last two games to the Columbus Blue Jackets by a combined 12-3 score.
  • Long known for one of the best defensive corps in the league for its depth and structure, along with outstanding goaltending from Pekka Rinne, former Hurricanes coach and second year Predators coach Peter Laviolette has transformed the team into one that is aggressive offensively and plays at a high pace. As a result they were ranked tops in the league last season at even-strength goals for percentage (52.3%).
  • Noted offseason acquisitions include free agent Cody Hodgson, who will shore up the middle with the free agency departure of Matt Cullen, and long-tenured Blues defenseman Barret Jackman, also acquired in free agency. The Predators also acquired free agent forward Steve Moses from the KHL, currently assigned to their AHL affiliate Milwaukee Admirals.
  • The Canes and Predators split their two games played last season, with each team winning at home. The Canes trail Nashville 8-10-2-1 all time, and they are 2-9-0 on the road.
  • TV coverage begins tonight at 7:00 pm ET with a one-hour pregame show, hosted by Michelle McMahon. Game coverage begins at 8:00 pm ET (7:00 pm CT).

Projected Lineups

(will update as information becomes available throughout the day)

Hurricanes

Kris Versteeg - Eric Staal - Elias Lindholm
Nathan Gerbe - Jordan Staal - Riley Nash
Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Chris Terry
Joakim Nordstrom - Jay McClement - Andrej Nestrasil

Ron Hainsey - Justin Faulk 
John-Michael Liles - James Wisniewski
Noah Hanifin - Ryan Murphy

Cam Ward (2-5-1, 2.74 GAA vs Preds)
Eddie Lack (2-2-0, 2.95 GAA vs Preds)

Injuries and scratches: Brad Malone (healthy), Michal Jordan (healthy)

Predators

Filip Forsberg - Mike Ribeiro - James Neal
Colin Wilson - Mike Fisher - Craig Smith
Viktor Arvidsson - Cody Hodgson - Calle Jarnkrok
Eric Nystrom - Paul Gaustad - Gabriel Borque

Roman Josi - Shea Weber
Barret Jackman - Seth Jones
Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis

Pekka Rinne (4-1-0, 1.78 GAA vs Canes)
Carter Hutton (0-1-0, 1.54 GAA vs Canes)

Injuries and Scratches: Austin Watson (healthy), Anthony Bitetto (healthy), Victor Bartley (healthy)

Storm Debris (random news clips)

  • SB Nation published its annual season previews last week. In case you missed it, here's the Canes edition, written by several of the staff here at Canes Country [SBNation NHL].
  • And here's Puck Daddy's Canes preview [Yahoo Sports].
  • Bill Peters post-practice media scrum October 7th edition [CH.com].
  • Canes open their season with a return to the playoffs as their goal [N&O].
  • Noah Hanifin is playing and learning. He talked about it with Chip Alexander and Buzz Sports Radio [N&O] [WRALSportsFan].
  • Adam and Joe and Eddie Lack and food trucks on Taco Tuesday. What more incentive do you need to click?  [WRALSportsFan].
  • David Glenn talks to James Wisniewski [WRALSportsFan].
  • The Canes are looking to ride the preseason momentum into the regular season [WRALSportsFan].
  • Cheaters Never Win season opener podcast with Predators Cellblock 303 [Section_328].
  • Here's the Predators season preview [SBNation NHL].
  • Predators GM David Poile says this is their year [CBSSports].
  • Inside the Predators ascendant blue line [The Score].
  • Predators want to avoid being 'one-year wonders' [Tennessean].
  • With the preseason in their rear-view mirror, the Preds prepare for tonight's opener [Preds.com]
  • James Mirtle's annual chart of 2015-16 NHL teams ranked by height, weight, and age (save you a click, the Canes are young and smallish) [James Mirtle Blog].
  • TSN's season opener power rankings (the Canes aren't as bad as you might think) [TSN].
  • Finally, the Canes got a surprise airport send-off from the team staff today as they headed out to Nashville.