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Hurricanes at Maple Leafs: Preview

The Canes find themselves once again at the center of attention in the center of the hockey universe.

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John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Hurricanes at Toronto Maple Leafs
February 25, 2016 - 7:30 pm ET
Air Canada Centre - Toronto, ON
Fox Sports Southeast - 99.9 FM - WRALSportsFan app
SB Nation Rival Blog - Pension Plan Puppets

Vital Statistics

Hurricanes Maple Leafs
Record 28-23-10 20-28-10
Points 66 50
Division Rank 6 Metro 8 Atlantic
Conference Rank 10 EC 16 EC
Last 10 Games 5-3-2 3-6-1
Streak Won 1 Lost 1

Goals/Game 2.48 2.36
Goals Against/Game 2.59 2.93
ES Goals For % 47.9% 45.2%
Shots/Game 30.1 31.3
Shots Against/Game 26.6 30.8
ES Corsi For % 52.8% 51.4%
Faceoff % 53.9% 51.4%
ES PDO 98.7 98.9
Power Play % (Rank) 17.2% (25) 14.5% (30)
Penalty Kill % (Rank) 82.2% (11) 79.4% (22)
PIM/Game 06:33 09:14

Goaltender #1 Ward Reimer
Record 18-12-7 11-12-7
ES Save % .917 .935
GAA 2.33 2.49

Goaltender #2 Lack Bernier
Record 10-11-3 6-15-3
ES Save % .907 .901
GAA 2.68 3.17

*Stats from and War on Ice

Game Notes

  • The Canes and Leafs square off tonight for the third and final time this season. The Canes haven't lost a season series to the Leafs since 2006-07 and come into tonight's game with a 1-0-1 record owing to a 2-1 shootout loss in Raleigh on Nov. 20 and a 1-0 overtime win in Toronto on Jan. 21.
  • The Leafs are currently tied with Edmonton at the bottom of the league standings. This is the first time they'll face the Canes since trading captain Dion Phaneuf to the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 9 in a multi-player trade, one of many steps in their rebuild process. On Sunday they dealt forward Shawn Matthias to Colorado in exchange for an AHL player and draft picks, and Monday they dealt Roman Polak and Nick Spaling for draft picks (and Raffi Torres).
  • Tonight wraps up a four-game home stand for the Leafs. They are winless in their last three at Air Canada Centre. Leo Komarov is their leading scorer with 18 goals and 35 points, but he won't be in the lineup tonight as he is serving the last game of a three-game suspension for an elbow to the head of Ryan McDonough on Feb. 18. Nazem Kadri is next with 32 points (11g, 21a) and will center the team's top line. The defense will feature six players all age 25 or younger. Jonathan Bernier will get the start in net; his record is 2-4-0 with a 3.03 GAA in six career appearances against Carolina.
  • At the center of attention in the center of the hockey universe is the surprising success of the Hurricanes and the status of captain Eric Staal, who remains in contract limbo with five days remaining before the trade deadline. The soon-to-be UFA is the top topic of conversation in the hockey media, and he and his teammates will need to set that aside to focus on the task at hand, which is acquiring two points in tonight's game.
  • Over the last 20 games the Canes have a 12-5-3 record and they'll need to maintain that pace over the next 21 in order to keep a chance of playing in the post season. In the wild card chase, they are two points behind the Penguins, who have two games in hand, and five points behind the Red Wings. The Penguins lost to the Bruins last night, who are on their way to Raleigh for Friday's game, the first of three against the Canes this season, and with a six-point advantage in the standings.
  • Tuesday's 3-1 win against the Flyers was great for the standings, but other than Cam Ward stealing the show, it was not a performance to remember. Feeling things were becoming a bit stale, head coach Bill Peters shuffled the forward lines and defensive pairings in the third period, and continued that over into yesterday's practice. Eric Staal was moved to the wing, and Kris Versteeg and Phil DiGiuseppe were moved to other lines. The sole point of continuity was the line of Jordan Staal, Andrej Nestrasil, and Joakim Nordstrom, which continues to be dominant, accounting for two of three goals in Tuesday's win. Jordan Staal (4g, 4a) has points in six straight games, and Nordstrom (3g, 1a) has points in four straight.
  • The defensive pairings for practice weren't reported so they are a best guess. Brett Pesce was off the ice for a maintenance day but is expected to be in the lineup. Peters has not confirmed his starter in net for tonight's game. Ward saved the day on Tuesday, and Eddie Lack registered his first shutout for the Canes in the win against the Leafs in January. Both are expected to see action with three games over the next four days. UPDATE 12:30 pm: Ward confirmed in net. Brett Pesce will be in the lineup, Justin Faulk did not skate today and is not expected to be in tonight's lineup. Forward lines are a guess because Eric Staal did not skate either, but is expected to be in the game.
  • The Canes head into their 15th set of back-to-back games, where they have an 18-7-3 record.
  • Tonight's game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Southeast, returning to Fox Sports Carolinas for the two weekend games.

Projected Lineups

Hurricanes (updated 2/25 morning skate)

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

Jaccob Slavin - Ron Hainsey
John-Michael Liles - Brett Pesce
Noah Hanifin - Michal Jordan

Cam Ward
Eddie Lack

Injuries and scratches: James Wisniewski (IR ACL), Justin Faulk (lower body), Nathan Gerbe (healthy), Brad Malone (healthy)

Leafs (updated 2/25 morning skate)

Michael Grabner - Nazem Kadri - Brendan Leipsic
Colin Greening - Mark Arcobello - PA Parenteau
Daniel Winnik - Peter Holland - Josh Leivo
Rich Clune - Byron Froese - Brad Boyes

Martin Marincin - Morgan Rielly
Jake Gardiner - Stuart Percy
Viktor Loov - Frank Corrado

Jonathan Bernier
James Reimer

Injuries and Scratches: Stephane Robidas (IR knee), Joffrey Lupul (IR middle body), James van Riemsdyk (IR foot fracture), Jared Cowen (IR hip), Tyler Bozak (IR upper body), Milan Michalek (IR finger), Matt Hunwick (lower body), Leo Komarov (suspension)

Storm Debris

  • Canes Gameday Hub [].
  • Bill Peters post-practice media scrum 2/24 (lots of good nuggets of info in this one) [].
  • Fort Knox Francis called in to talk with Adam and Joe yesterday. His insight heading into the trade deadline is worth the listen [WRALSportsFan].
  • The curious case of Eric Staal (according to Bob McKenzie) [TSN], who hasn't been asked but might not block a trade [N&O] as the decision looms [WRALSportsFan].
  • Exploring the Hurricanes' Trade Deadline Possibilities [Today's Slapshot].
  • Sizing up the Eastern Conference: buyers or sellers? [USA Today].
  • In the not-good news category, looks like former Hurricane Joni Pitkanen's comeback may be over due to lingering issues from his heel injury [Puck Daddy].
  • Down Goes Brown looks at the best deadline trades by Stanley Cup winners (yes you'll find a familiar face here) [The Hockey News].