The Carolina Hurricanes enter play tonight nine points behind the New Jersey Devils for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. With the Florida Panthers between the Canes and the Devils, and the season winding down into the final 12 games, the odds of climbing back into serious contention are rather slim.
The pregame festivities will feature the return of a Canes great, as Arturs Irbe will perform the ceremonial puck drop.
Just confirmed for tonight’s #Canes game: Returning for a ceremonial puck drop will be a member of our 20th anniversary team, All-Star, Olympian, member of the 2002 #Canes Eastern Conference Championship Squad, and an all-time fan favorite- Arturs Irbe!— Jon Chase (@JChasesthoughts) March 17, 2018
Cam Ward returns to the net for the Canes after being in net for the debacle in the third period against the Bruins on Tuesday. With the AHL Checkers in the hear of a playoff race in Charlotte, the expectation is that little to no reinforcements are headed to the NHL level from the minor leagues. These final twelve games will likely be the final games for many members of the Canes roster, as a big summer of change is expected around Raleigh. If the lineup wants to avoid that, the only way to do so is to practically run the table. Here is how they will lineup to begin that improbable pursuit:
Sebastian Aho - Jordan Staal - Teuvo Teravainen
Brock McGinn - Elias Lindholm - Justin Williams
Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Phil Di Giuseppe
Joakim Nordstrom - Derek Ryan - Lee Stempniak
Jaccob Slavin - Brett Pesce
Haydn Fleury - Justin Faulk
Noah Hanifin - Trevor Van Riemsdyk
The recent cold spell that has seen the Flyers go 1-6-1 in their last eight games has dropped them from the top of the Metropolitan Division to a wild card spot, precariously positioned just four points ahead of the Panthers, making tonight’s contest extremely important for the visitors as well.
With both teams heading into a back-to-back, the Flyers have elected to run out their current backup, Alex Lyon tonight, to preserve Petr Mrazek for tomorrow against the Washington Capitals. Below is how the Flyers are expected to line up tonight in Raleigh:
Claude Giroux - Sean Couturier - Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom - Nolan Patrick - Jakub Voracek
Michael Raffl - Valtteri Filppula - Wayne Simmonds
Jori Lehtera - Scott Laughton - Matt Read
Ivan Provorov - Shayne Gostisbehere
Travis Sanheim - Andrew MacDonald
Brandon Manning - Radko Gudas