The Carolina Hurricanes have two games left before a summer of what will likely be significant change. They are on the road for the final time this season tonight in Philadelphia, a building where they’ve lost just once in their last seven visits dating back to 2014. Much like their visit to Florida on Monday, the Canes will be up against a team whose playoff fate hangs in the balance, and could desperately use a win tonight to make their spot more secure.
Without a morning skate this morning, the lineup will be a bit of a guess, but we do know that Justin Faulk (upper body) will in all likelihood miss the final two games of the season, so the defense should look the same as it did on Monday. Scott Darling and Cam Ward will split the goaltending duties in the final two games, but in what order is anyone’s guess. Logically, it might make a bit more sense for Ward to play tonight and Darling to face the weakened but still powerful Lightning at home on Saturday in the season finale, but it could really go either way. Update 5:00 pm: And we came up on the wrong side of the 50/50 bet: Darling gets the call tonight, presumably leaving Ward to finish out the season against Tampa.
John Forslund is on NBCSN duty for Caps/Preds tonight, so Jason Shaya will make the short drive down from Allentown, where the Checkers just finished a two-game set, to Philadelphia to call the game. Andrew will be at Wells Fargo Center covering the game for us, so give him a Twitter follow @Andrew_Ahr. Your lineup tonight (we think):
Brock McGinn - Jordan Staal - Justin Williams
Jeff Skinner - Elias Lindholm - Phil Di Giuseppe
Valentin Zykov - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Joakim Nordstrom - Derek Ryan - Lee Stempniak
Jaccob Slavin - Klas Dahlbeck
Noah Hanifin - Trevor van Riemsdyk
Haydn Fleury - Roland McKeown
There are going to be a lot of teams cheering for the Hurricanes tonight - or, more specifically, cheering against the Philadelphia Flyers. For one, the Columbus Blue Jackets can clinch a playoff spot if the Flyers don’t win in regulation (there are other scenarios by which they can clinch tonight). The Florida Panthers can’t catch the Flyers tonight, but a Flyers loss combined with a Panthers win over Boston makes the deficit just two points with the Panthers holding a game in hand. The New Jersey Devils could use a Flyers loss for sure, although they’re much more concerned with taking care of their own business.
And as for the Flyers, a win tonight keeps them at least four points above the Panthers, and if that win doesn’t come via shootout it won’t mathematically clinch a spot, but it will leave the Panthers at the mercy of tiebreakers. In short, there’s a ton riding on this game for playoff positioning in the East, and the Canes have a great chance to play kingmaker.
Brian Elliott returns tonight for the Flyers, coming back into the lineup after surgery to repair a core muscle injury in February. That will relegate Petr Mrazek, who beat the Canes 4-2 in Raleigh two weeks ago, to the bench. Here’s how the Flyers will look tonight:
Claude Giroux - Sean Couturier - Michael Raffl
Oskar Lindblom - Nolan Patrick - Jakub Voracek
Travis Konecny - Valtteri Filppula - Wayne Simmonds
Scott Laughton - Jori Lehtera - Matt Read
Ivan Provorov - Shayne Gostisbehere
Travis Sanheim - Andrew MacDonald
Brandon Manning - Radko Gudas