For the Carolina Hurricanes, the return of co-captain Jordan Staal has less significance in terms of the on-ice production than it does on a personal level, as his teammates, coaches, and fans all continue thinking about Jordan and his wife Heather’s loss of their infant daughter Hannah. I and the Canes Country staff continue to send nothing but our absolute best to Staal and his family as he makes his return to the ice in Philadelphia on Thursday.
For the Hurricanes as a team, just 19 games remain for the roster that has largely stayed in tact for the full season to put together a run to vault themselves back into a playoff position, and getting Staal back certainly helps in that regard. Winless in their last six games (0-4-2), the Canes simply must begin stacking together wins to avoid falling completely out of the race.
The Canes begin a back-to-back against division opponents who are in playoff position tonight against the Flyers, then return home tomorrow for a contest with the New Jersey Devils. Cam Ward is slated to return to the net tonight in Philly, which would leave the assumption to be that Scott Darling will get the next assignment at home tomorrow night.
Here are the lines the Canes are expected to put in front of Ward tonight:
Sebastian Aho - Elias Lindholm - Teuvo Teravainen
Brock McGinn - Jordan Staal - Justin Williams
Jeff Skinner - Lucas Wallmark - Phil Di Giuseppe
Victor Rask - Derek Ryan - Lee Stempniak
Jaccob Slavin - Justin Faulk
Noah Hanifin - Brett Pesce
Haydn Fleury - Trevor van Riemsdyk
The Flyers have enjoyed a few days off as they currently sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division and host the Canes while riding a six-game winning streak. With the sudden injuries to their top two goaltending options, Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth, the Flyers were able to make a play to acquire Petr Mrazek from the Detroit Red Wings. Since joining the Flyers, Mrazek has gone a perfect 3-0, while allowing only four goals.
The one absence of note in terms of skaters for the Flyers is the recent loss of Wayne Simmonds to an upper body injury. He should return in a few weeks, but his effect in front of the net and on the power play are certain to be felt.
Below is the expected lineup for the home team on Broad Street tonight:
Claude Giroux - Sean Couturier - Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom - Nolan Patrick - Jakub Voracek
Taylor Leier- Scott Laughton - Michael Raffl
Jori Lehtera - Valtteri Filppula - Dale Weise
Ivan Provorov - Shayne Gostisbehere
Robert Hagg - Andrew MacDonald
Brandon Manning - Radko Gudas