Hey y’all, Brian here. Before we get to the lineups for tonight, I want to say a few words about a friend to all of us.
If you missed the news earlier today, Mike Maniscalco is headed back to Raleigh after doctors in San Jose discovered a mass in his abdomen that was causing severe pain earlier this week. You all know Mike from his work on Canes TV and, before that, as the pregame and postgame host on 99.9. For the last 13 seasons, Mike has been a fixture in the press box - in fact, he and I started covering the team in the same season. The Canes press box is a very tight-knit group; there is rarely much turnover, and for that reason over the years we’ve all become very close friends.
Perhaps that’s why today’s news hit like a ton of bricks. I can’t think of many people I respect more than Mike, and I can tell you that there is no one more respected on press row than the Big Rig. He’s as genuine as they come, a true pro’s pro, and the enthusiasm that comes across in his coverage of the Canes is not at all insincere. He’s also one of the most relentlessly positive and persistent people I’ve ever met. It’s for that reason that I have full confidence that he’ll meet this challenge head-on.
Please keep Mike and his wife Kristen in your thoughts. I texted him last night to ask if he needed anything at all, and the only thing he told me was “positive vibes” - so let’s get those going straight away. Mike, we love you, get well soon, and we can’t wait to see you back on the air.
The Canes played probably their worst game of the year in San Jose, falling 5-2 to the Sharks as Evander Kane netted a first-period hat trick. Erik Haula and Dougie Hamilton remained hot in that one, as each found the back of the net for their sixth and fifth goals of the year, respectively.
While Haula and Hamilton have been finding goals consistently, Carolina hasn’t had anyone else find a goal-scoring rhythm yet. Sebastian Aho has just two goals, both empty netters, while Nino Niederreiter and Brock McGinn have yet to score. The Canes are going to need some of their wingers to step it up if they want to continue to win.
It looks like defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk will make his season debut Friday night, as he returns from a shoulder injury. The Canes reassigned winger Brian Gibbons to Charlotte Thursday, so Carolina will dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen against the Ducks. Expect to see some sort of rotation, both with the defensive pairings and the offensive lines, as Rod Brind’Amour eases van Riemsdyk back into game action.
Nino Niederreiter - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Andrei Svechnikov - Jordan Staal - Brock McGinn
Ryan Dzingel - Erik Haula - Martin Necas
Warren Foegele - Lucas Wallmark - ???
Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton
Joel Edmundson - Brett Pesce
Jake Gardiner - Haydn Fleury
Trevor van Riemsdyk (rotating)
The Ducks have started their season out hot as well, winning their first three games of the year and five of their first seven.
Anaheim is coming off a 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres Wednesday night in a game where the Ducks battled back from an early 2-0 hole. Adam Henrique netted two goals against the Sabres, as he leads the team with four on the season.
What the Ducks have done best so far this year is limiting the goals scored against them. Anaheim leads the NHL with just 1.71 goals allowed per game, and has let a team score more than two against them just once this season.
Both goaltenders have been fantastic for Anaheim so far this year. John Gibson has a goals against average of 1.85 and a .941 save percentage through six games, as the consistently great goaltender looks well on his way to another outstanding season. Backup Ryan Miller has played just one game so far, but he allowed just one goal and had a save percentage of .963.
If the Ducks take the ice the way they did Wednesday against the Sabres, here’s what they’ll look like:
Max Comtois - Ryan Getzlaf - Ondrej Kase
Rickard Rakell - Adam Henrique - Jakob Silfverberg
Max Jones - Sam Steel - Troy Terry
Nick Ritchie - Derek Grant - Carter Rowney
Hampus Lindholm - Josh Manson
Michael Del Zotto - Cam Fowler
Jacob Larsson - Korbinian Holzer