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Hurricanes vs Panthers: Preview

With 27 goals and a 34.8% power play through seven games in the month of December, the force has awakened for the Canes, but is it a new hope, or will the Panthers prove it's a trap?

Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.
Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.
Jamie Kellner

Carolina Hurricanes vs Florida Panthers
December 18, 2015 - 7:00 pm ET
PNC Arena - Raleigh, NC
Fox Sports Carolinas - 99.9 FM - WRALSportsFan app
SB Nation Rivals - Litter Box Cats

Vital Statistics

Hurricanes Panthers
Record 12-14-5 16-12-4
Points 29 36
Division Rank 7th Metro 5th Atlantic
Conference Rank 14th EC 9th EC
Last 10 Games 5-4-1 7-3-0
Streak OT 1 Won 2

Goals/Game 2.48 2.59
Goals Against/Game 3.06 2.34
ES Goals For % 43.0% 52.1%
Shots/Game 30.1 27.9
Shots Against/Game 26.0 29.5
ES Corsi For % 53.4% 46.9%
Faceoff % 54.0% 49.5%
ES PDO 96.5 101.4
Power Play % (Rank) 17.5% (22) 18.9% (14)
Penalty Kill % (Rank) 76.0% (29) 80.4% (18)
PIM/Game 06:38 09:24

Goaltender #1 Ward Luongo
Record 9-8-3 11-11-3
ES Save % .899 .939
GAA 2.73 2.29

Goaltender #2 Lack Montoya
Record 3-6-1 4-1-1
ES Save % .882 .929
GAA 3.34 1.91

*Stats from and War on Ice

Game Notes

  • I find your lack of faith disturbing. The Canes have been on a roll offensively in the month of December, but the Florida Panthers may prove a tough test. The Panthers swept the Canes last season for the first time in their franchise's history, won in Raleigh in October, and have only given up two goals to the Canes in those last four games.
  • At last we will have revenge. The Panthers come in on a roll themselves, with two straight 5-1 wins, the most recent against the Devils last night which was their first win in Newark in the last nine tries, and seven wins in their last nine road games.
  • You are unwise to lower your defenses. Ex-Cane Jussi Jokinen (7g, 16a) leads the team with 23 points, and Jaromir Jagr is right behind him with 22 (9g, 13a). Reilly Smith leads in goals scored with 10. Jagr (116 points in 84 games) and Jokinen (18 points in 18 games) are point-per-game producers against the Canes, along with Jonathan Huberdeau (10 points in 10 games). Connor Brickley scored his first (and only) NHL goal against the Canes on October 13.
  • We seem to be made to suffer. It's our lot in life. Players yet to score their first NHL goal this season include Willie Mitchell, Corban Knight, Dylan Olsen, and Shawn Thornton.
  • Never tell me the odds. Roberto Luongo did not play last night, coming off a 33-save performance against the Islanders on Tuesday night, and he's scheduled to get the start tonight. Bobby Lu is certainly familiar to the Canes with 30 career games against them and a 12-14-3-1 record with a 248 GAA and one shutout.
  • Everything's under control. Situation normal. After Tuesday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Flyers, the Canes took the day off on Wednesday and were back at practice yesterday. There were no changes to the lineups in practice, as Bill Peters has been content to let his forward lines and defensive pairs continue to develop chemistry. He hasn't named a starting goaltender yet, though his plan is to play both Eddie Lack and Cam Ward in this weekend's back-to-back games (the Canes play the Penguins tomorrow night). UPDATE 11:00 am: Cam Ward is confirmed as tonight's starter.
  • That boy is our last hope. Phil Di Giuseppe has played in six NHL games, all on a line with Victor Rask and Jeff Skinner. In those six games, that line has accounted for 22 points (12g, 10a) including nine goals for Skinner. Bill Peters and Rod Brind'Amour settled on two power play units starting with the Montreal game on December 5. Since that time the power play has gone 8-for-23 in December, which is a 34.8% success rate. Both units now feature rookie defensemen, Noah Hanifin manning the first unit and Brett Pesce on the second, and as long as someone can get the puck to the NHL's leading power play goal scorer Justin Faulk (or as a fallback, Skinner), all is well.
  • Do... or do not. There is no try. Jordan Staal is one assist away from 200 career NHL assists, and Justin Faulk is one assist away from 100 NHL assists. Faulk also has points in each of his last five games (4g, 4a), Skinner (7g, 1a) and Di Giuseppe (2g, 3a) have points in their last four games, Jordan Staal and Brett Pesce have points in their last three games, and Jaccob Slavin is riding a two-game point streak.

Projected Lineups

Hurricanes (Updated from Friday's morning skate)

Kris Versteeg - Eric Staal - Elias Lindholm
Joakim Nordstrom - Jordan Staal - Andrej Nestrasil
Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Phillip Di Giuseppe
Brad Malone - Jay McClement - Chris Terry

Ron Hainsey - Justin Faulk 
John-Michael Liles - Brett Pesce
Noah Hanifin - Jaccob Slavin

Cam Ward
Eddie Lack

Injuries and scratches: James Wisniewski (IR ACL), Nathan Gerbe (ankle), Riley Nash (healthy)

Panthers (from Thursday's game)

Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Jaromir Jagr
Brandon PirriVincent Trocheck - Reilly Smith
Jussi Jokinen - Rocco GrimaldiLogan Shaw
Shawn Thornton - Corban Knight - Quinton Howden

Willie Mitchell - Brian Campbell
Dmitry KulikovAaron Ekblad
Dylan Olsen - Erik Gudbranson

Al Montoya
Roberto Luongo

Injuries and Scratches: Alex Petrovic (lower body), Nick Bjugstad (upper body), Steven Kampfer (lower body), Derek MacKenzie (lower body), Connor Brickley (undisclosed)

Storm Debris

  • Canes Game Day hub []
  • Recap from Panthers/Devils [Miami Herald]
  • Jeff Skinner is the man of the hour. He has the offense heating up [], and he talked twice with WRAL Sports yesterday, first with the Buzz Sports Radio morning team [WRALSportsFan] and later with Adam Gold and Joe Ovies [WRALSportsFan].
  • Victor Rask is quiet, cool and effective [N&O], but his sister Fanny, a renowned athlete herself, says he mostly lets his hockey do the talking [N&O].
  • Bill Peters also joined Adam and Joe this week to talk about better scoring [WRALSportsFan].
  • These days, ex-Cane Jussi Jokinen is embracing his role as a versatile forward for the Panthers []
  • Our State magazine talks Hurricanes hockey origins with equipment manager Skip Cunningham, former player Bates Battaglia, and Mike Flanagan of Section 328 fame [Our State].
  • The Canes Toy Drive is still underway. Donate toys during business hours or before the game and receive buy one/get one free vouchers for Monday's game against the Capitals, and register to win cool prizes including team-signed memorabilia [].
  • Finally, is Noah Hanifin better as a rookie or a Wookiee? You decide.

* Stick tap to Cory Lavalette and Benjamin Reed (@RangerRick) for their photo editing help.