The Carolina Hurricanes (3-0-0, 6pts) are off to an excellent start. Three wins in their first three regular-season games have them sitting atop the Metro Division standings.
What’s been the formula so far? Somewhat surprisingly, it hasn’t been their even-strength play, where they have both scored and conceded six goals. Instead, the difference has been on special teams. The Canes are four out of twelve on the power play (33%), and they’ve killed off eleven of thirteen on the penalty kill (85%).
It’s a small sample size, but welcome all the same. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour noted after Sunday’s win how the power play has been vital thus far in the young season:
“That might be the whole difference in [our play] right now. We’re getting a [power play] goal here and there. That just gets you back in the game.”
Equally as significant, the penalty kill unit has already faced - and largely shut down - the likes of Alex Ovechkin, John Carlson, Steven Stamkos, and Nikita Kucherov.
The lines look to be unchanged from Sunday. James Reimer will get the call in net tonight as he returns to the arena where he spent the last three seasons.
Andrei Svechnikov - Jordan Staal - Brock McGinn
Nino Niederreiter - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Ryan Dzingel - Erik Haula - Martin Necas
Warren Foegele - Lucas Wallmark - Jordan Martinook
Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton
Joel Edmundson - Brett Pesce
Jake Gardiner - Haydn Fleury
Injuries and Scratches: Trevor van Riemsdyk (shoulder)
This year’s version of the Panthers has been bolstered by several summer moves. Anton Stralman, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Brett Connolly will be on the ice, while Joel Quenneville will be behind the bench.
Yet the story for the Panthers thus far has been Mike Hoffman. The 30-year-old has scored four goals in the Panthers’ two games, including a hat trick their last time out.
The top six forwards in Florida ooze talent and Bobrovsky can be one of the world’s best when he’s on. Expect a stern challenge for the Canes, who are playing their fourth game in six days.
Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Evgenii Dadonov
Mike Hoffman - Vincent Trocheck - Brett Connolly
Frank Vatrano - Henrik Borgstrom - Jayce Hawryluk
Dryden Hunt - Noel Acciari - Colton Sceviour
Michael Matheson - Aaron Ekblad
Mackenzie Weegar - Anton Stralman
Keith Yandle - Mark Pysyk
Injuries and Scratches: none