The Carolina Hurricanes (9-5-1, 19pts) return to action tonight against the New York Rangers (6-6-1, 13pts). The Canes are coming off two straight losses to Metropolitan Division opponents. In those losses (against the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers), the Canes gave up a total of nine goals.
It’s a worrying trend that dates back to the road swing through California. In the first seven games of the season, the Canes gave up no more than three goals in any game. In the eight games since then, they’ve yielded four or more goals a total of five times. Not surprisingly, they’ve failed to win any of those five games.
It’s no secret that the Canes’ defensive core is their greatest strength, so a strong effort from the defensive unit could be just what the team needs to get back to winning ways. In particular, the pairing of Brett Pesce and Jake Gardiner will be looking to bounce back from a rough outing against the Flyers where they were each minus-2 on the night. Pesce, who started the season with three points in his first five games, has now recorded only a single point in his last ten.
With Erik Haula out for tonight’s game, and the Ineffective seven-defensemen strategy retired - at least for the present - the Canes have called up Eetu Luostarinen from Charlotte. Luostarinen has been hot for the Checkers, and he will skate on the fourth line with Brian Gibbons and Brock McGinn. Jordan Staal missed yesterday’s practice, but he is expected to play tonight.
Here’s how the Canes should look tonight:
Nino Niederreiter - Jordan Staal - Teuvo Teravainen
Andrei Svechnikov - Sebastian Aho - Warren Foegele
Ryan Dzingel - Lucas Wallmark - Martin Necas
Brock McGinn - Eetu Luostarinen - Brian Gibbons
Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton
Jake Gardiner - Brett Pesce
Joel Edmundson - Trevor van Riemsdyk
Injuries and Scratches: Erik Haula (knee), Jordan Martinook (core muscle), Haydn Fleury (healthy)
The New York Rangers come into Raleigh to play their second game in two nights. They’re coming off a 5-1 defeat of the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday. Henrik Lundqvist got the start last night, so it seems likely that Alexandar Georgiev will get the call tonight.
The Rangers have been hot and cold so far, but scoring goals has not been an issue. The Canes will need to shut down the likes of Artemi Panarin (6g, 6a) and Ryan Strome (4g, 7a) to gain the upper hand in this one.
Former Hurricane Gregg McKegg returns to PNC tonight as a member of the Rangers, while Adam Fox makes his first trip to Raleigh for a regular-season game as well. Expect McKegg to get a warm welcome. Fox...not so much.
Here’s how the Rangers are expected to take the ice:
Artemi Panarin - Ryan Strome - Jesper Fast
Chris Kreider - Filip Chytil - Pavel Buchnevich
Brendan Lemieux - Brett Howden - Kaapo Kakko
Brendan Smith - Greg McKegg - Micheal Hale
Libor Hajek - Jacob Trouba
Brady Skjei - Tony DeAngelo
Marc Staal - Adam Fox
Injuries and Scratches: Mika Zibanejad (upper-body)