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Hurricanes vs Rangers: Preview

In which the former captain returns and fans will get the chance to say #ThankYouEric. Then let's go try to win a hockey game.

This time, he'll be warming up on the opposite side.
This time, he'll be warming up on the opposite side.
Jamie Kellner

Carolina Hurricanes vs New York Rangers
March 31, 2016 - 7:00 pm ET
PNC Arena - Raleigh, NC
Fox Sports Carolinas - 99.9 FM - WRALSportsFan app
SB Nation Rival Blog - Blueshirt Banter

Vital Statistics

Hurricanes Rangers
Record 33-28-16 43-24-9
Points 82 95
Division Rank 7 Metro 2 Metro
Conference Rank 11 EC 2 EC
Last 10 Games 3-2-5 5-2-3
Streak OT 1 OT 1

Goals/Game 2.42 2.84
Goals Against/Game 2.64 2.59
ES Goals For % 46.3% 56.3%
Shots/Game 30.0 28.4
Shots Against/Game 27.5 30.5
ES Corsi For % 51.6% 47.1%
Faceoff % 53.7% 49.3%
ES PDO 98.6 102.6
Power Play % (Rank) 16.7% (23) 19.3% (12)
Penalty Kill % (Rank) 84.4% (5) 77.9% (27)
PIM/Game 06:50 08:29

Goaltender #1 Ward Lundqvist
Record 21-16-10 33-19-7
ES Save % .916 .937
GAA 2.39 2.41

Goaltender #2 Lack Raanta
Record 12-12-6 10-5-2
ES Save % .909 .915
GAA 2.70 2.32

*Stats from and War on Ice

Game Notes

  • There's a hockey game tonight, with implications in the standings heading into the NHL post-season. But for a while this evening that will be a secondary focus of attention, as the man who wore the sightless eye for 12 seasons, half of those with a 'C' on his chest, returns to Raleigh for the first time in his NHL career as an opponent of the Carolina Hurricanes. Eric Staal will be honored tonight for his many on and off-ice accomplishments that make him the all-time leader for a long list of records during the team's North Carolina tenure and when not first, second only to general manager Ron Francis in many more records dating back to the franchise's roots in Hartford. For as much as the trade at this year's deadline seemed inevitable, there will be a surreal vibe among fans as they remember and pay tribute. Then the task at hand becomes trying to collect two points with a win over the New York Rangers.
  • Wins over the Rangers have been few and far between for the Canes, who have been denied in 19 of their last 20 tries against their Metro division opponent including an 0-3-0 record so far this season. This is the final meeting of the season between them. The Rangers can clinch a playoff spot with a win tonight, and while the Canes are still not mathematically eliminated from a playoff spot, they have to win out and get a lot of help from other teams. Their tragic number is down to four.
  • The former Canes captain scored two goals against the Penguins on Sunday, but it wasn't enough as the Rangers fell 3-2 in overtime. The team has been idle since that game, and isn't expected to make any changes to their lineup. Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello lead the Rangers with 57 points, and Brassard leads with 27 goals, while Keith Yandle leads with 39 assists. The Rangers have the best shooting percentage, the best save percentage, and best PDO in the league, as has been the case for most of the season. Henrik Lundqvist has a 23-9-1 record in 33 career games against Carolina.
  • Not to be overlooked in the shuffle, the Canes made an important roster move yesterday, recalling Sergey Tolchinsky, who will make his NHL debut tonight. The small but speedy and skilled forward posted 95 points in 61 games with his major junior team, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, and has 32 points in 65 games with the Charlotte Checkers this season, including his first multi-goal game of his professional career on Mar. 23. He becomes the seventh Checkers player to make his NHL debut this season. Stay tuned for the morning skate to see where Tolchinsky (and the rest of the Canes) slot into tonight's  lineup.

Projected Lineups

Hurricanes (3/31 morning skate)

Joakim Nordstrom - Jordan Staal - Elias Lindholm
Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Chris Terry
Nathan Gerbe - Jay McClement - Brad Malone
Sergey Tolchinsky - Derek Ryan - Patrick Brown

Jaccob Slavin - Justin Faulk
Noah Hanifin - Brett Pesce
Ron Hainsey - Ryan Murphy

Cam Ward
Eddie Lack

Injuries and scratches: James Wisniewski (IR ACL), Andrej Nestrasil (fractured vertebra), Phillip Di Giuseppe (upper body), Riley Nash (upper body), Michal Jordan (healthy)

Rangers (3/31 morning skate)

Chris Kreider - Derick Brassard - Rick Nash
J.T. Miller - Derek Stepan - Mats Zuccarello
Eric Staal - Kevin Hayes - Jesper Fast
Tanner Glass - Dominic Moore - Viktor Stalberg

Ryan McDonough - Kevin Klein
Keith Yandle - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Dan Boyle

Henrik Lundqvist
Antti Raanta

Injuries and scratches: Dylan McIlrath, Oscar Lindberg

Storm Debris

  • Canes Gameday Hub [].
  • All about Eric Staal's return to Raleigh, from [] [ESPN] [CBC] [Canes Country] [N&O] [SportsChannel8] [Section 328] and from Eric himself [The Player's Tribune].
  • Sergey Tolchinsky Recalled for NHL debut [] [Today's Slapshot].
  • Bill Peters talks about the grown of his team, including his rookie defensemen, Skinner, and Lindholm, the return of Eric Staal, and how he staffs a shootout [WRALSportsFan].
  • In the Canes Corner podcast Mike Manisalco and Chuck Kaiton talk about Eric Staal's return, what the Canes have to play for in their last five games, concussion issues, and who's the best team in the NHL [WRALSportsFan].
  • Hayes-Staal-Fast Line gives Rangers a lift [Newsday]