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Hurricanes vs Predators: Preview

Can the Canes begin 2016 the way they ended 2015? They'll face January's first test against the Predators tonight.

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Jamie Kellner

Carolina Hurricanes vs Nashville Predators
January 2, 2016 - 7:00 pm ET
PNC Arena - Raleigh, NC
Fox Sports Carolinas - 99.9 FM - WRALSportsFan app
SB Nation Rivals - On The Forecheck

Vital Statistics

Hurricanes Predators
Record 16-17-5 18-13-9
Points 37 43
Division Rank 7th Metro 5th Central
Conference Rank 13th EC 6th WC
Last 10 Games 6-3-1 4-4-2
Streak Won 1 Lost 1

Goals/Game 2.39 2.61
Goals Against/Game 2.82 2.63
ES Goals For % 44.8% 50.8%
Shots/Game 29.8 31.2
Shots Against/Game 26.2 26.9
ES Corsi For % 53.2% 54.0%
Faceoff % 53.2% 48.8%
ES PDO 97.5 99
Power Play % (Rank) 17.1% (25) 21.0% (6)
Penalty Kill % (Rank) 77.9% (23) 76.8% (28)
PIM/Game 06:09 10:47

Goaltender #1 Ward Rinne
Record 11-11-3 15-11-6
ES Save % .906 .921
GAA 2.52 2.46

Goaltender #2 Lack Hutton
Record 5-6-2 3-1-1
ES Save % .898 .886
GAA 3.04 2.95

*Stats from and War on Ice

Game Notes

  • The Hurricanes enter 2016 on the heels of a very solid December capped off with a win against the NHL's best team on New Years Eve. The Canes went 8-5-1 in 14 December games, which extrapolates to a 100-point pace. Six of the eight wins were against teams currently in a playoff position. Their 37 points in 38 games played is 11 points better than where they were at this point last season.
  • The Canes have played their last 13 games with an all-American blue line, accounting for 10 goals and 34 points, but that streak could be coming to an end tonight. Noah Hanifin missed practice yesterday due to illness and will be a game-time decision tonight. If Noah is unable to play, Michal Jordan will draw back into the lineup.
  • Other than Hanifin's absence and ensuing rearrangement of the defensive pairings, there were no other changes to the lineup when the team practiced yesterday. Bill Peters hasn't announced his starting netminder yet. After rocky starts for both goalies, Cam Ward posted a 4-3-0 record in December, and Eddie Lack was 4-2-1 and has points (4-0-1) in his last five games including the team's two most recent wins against Chicago and Washington.
  • The Canes will begin January as they began the season, facing the Nashville Predators. They fell to the Preds 2-1 in Nashville to open the season on October 8, and tonight's game will wrap up the series. The teams split last season's series with each winning on home ice. The Canes have earned at least a point in each of the last seven games played against the Predators here at PNC Arena.
  • One player to watch for the Hurricanes tonight is Eric Staal, who scored the only goal against the Predators in the season opener. Staal scored both goals in the 3-2 loss to the Devils on December 29 and scored the go-ahead goal against the Capitals Thursday night. As well, with Staal's future in the balance and 26 games remaining before the trade deadline, Nashville has been oft-rumored as a potential destination for the Canes captain.
  • Jeff Skinner, who leads the team with 15 goals including the game-winner against Washington Thursday, has 10 points (5g, 5a) in eight career games against the Predators.
  • After coming from behind to secure a point in an overtime loss to the Blues on Tuesday, the Predators fell 5-1 to the Stars in Dallas on New Years Eve. Craig Smith scored their lone goal.
  • The Predators have the most productive defensive corps in the NHL, leading with 30 goals and 96 points generated by defensemen (the Canes rank third by the way, with 23 goals by defensemen). Roman Josi leads the team in scoring with 29 points (9g, 20a), followed by Shea Weber with 26 points (11g, 15a). James Neal leads the team with 15 goals, and is one goal away from 200 career NHL goals.
  • Goaltender Pekka Rinne hasn't won a game on the road since November 5, going 0-6-2 in his last eight road games with a 3.51 GAA and .874 save percentage. That said, he has been historically stellar against the Canes with a 5-1-0 record, 1.65 GAA, and .935 save percentage in six career starts.
  • The Canes and Preds rank first (26.2) and second (26.9) respectively in the league in shots allowed. On special teams, the Predators click on the power play (21.6% overall and 26.7% in December), but they are weaker on the penalty kill plus they take a lot of penalties. If the Canes can recapture their earlier December success on the man advantage, the special teams battle may be the one to watch tonight. The Canes were 10-for-37 (27.0%) on the power play in December but have not scored a power play goal in their last five games.
  • He won't be participating in the upcoming 2006 Stanley Cup reunion events, but former Canes head coach Peter Laviolette will be back in town tonight behind the bench for the Predators.
  • UPDATE 12:00 pm: Hanifin will be in the Canes lineup tonight. Eddie Lack will start in net. The Predators shuffled their forward lines; Cody Hodgson will draw back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the last three games. Rinne looks to be the starter, as expected.

Projected Lineups

Hurricanes (1/2 morning skate)

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

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

Eddie Lack
Cam Ward

Injuries and scratches: James Wisniewski (IR ACL), Nathan Gerbe (ankle), Brad Malone (healthy), Michal Jordan (healthy)

Predators (1/2 morning skate)

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

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

Pekka Rinne
Carter Hutton

Injuries and Scratches: Gabriel Bourque (IR upper body), Austin Watson (healthy), Anthony Bitetto (healthy), Petter Granberg (healthy)

Storm Debris

  • Canes Gameday Hub [].
  • Bill Peters post-practice media scrum 1/1/16 [].
  • Hurricanes put NHL on notice with Huge Wins [Today's SlapShot].
  • Eric Staal increases his value and raises questions for the Hurricanes [Cardiac Cane].
  • The Staal brothers consider the what-ifs [N&O].
  • The Predator Way: Player Development Leads to Prosperity [].
  • Nashville needs a 1C, if they pursue a trade, which defensemen are untouchable? [Today's SlapShot].
  • Hodgson endures stretch as a healthy scratch [Tennessean].
  • Former Hurricanes assistant coach Tom Rowe has been named Assistant General Manager for the Florida Panthers [].
  • 2016 World Juniors Championship Playoff and Relegation Round previews (some love for Canes prospects Alex Nedeljkovic and Sebastian Aho) [Hockey's Future].