Tonight, the Carolina Hurricanes (19-11-1, 39 pts) continue their Western Conference sojourn with a tilt against the Vancouver Canucks (15-12-4, 34 pts). The Canes are coming off a 6-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday and have now won three straight games.
The most prominent player during this three-game winning streak has to be Sebastian Aho. Dating back to the start of November, Aho has absolutely been on fire. The Finn has 15 goals in the 19 games since Halloween, which leads the entire league in that time. His 18 goals on the year now put him in a tie for seventh in the NHL.
Not to be outdone, Dougie Hamilton continues to make his case for a Norris Trophy. His mid-ice goal in Edmonton brought his total up to 11 for the year, and will also undoubtedly make some year-in-review highlight lists. In addition to his point-per-game pace, Hamilton’s defensive reliability has taken an enormous step forward this year. His plus/minus rating of plus-17 is tops on the team and 6th in the league.
In net, Petr Mrazek (13-6-1) should get a somewhat-rare road start. He’s 3-3-1 on the road this season with his last road win coming almost a month ago in Chicago.
As for the skaters, when you’ve scored 19 goals in your last three games, you’re not likely to make any changes. Don’t expect the lines to look any different unless something goes very wrong.
In one bit of news earlier today, the Hurricanes swapped minor-league defensemen with the Detroit Red Wings, swapping Checkers defenseman Kyle Wood for Grand Rapids Griffins blueliner Oliwer Kaski. Wood was acquired over the summer in exchange for longtime Checkers defenseman Trevor Carrick.
Here are the Canes’ expected lines:
Nino Niederreiter - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Andrei Svechnikov - Jordan Staal - Warren Foegele
Ryan Dzingel - Lucas Wallmark - Martin Necas
Brock McGinn - Jordan Martinook - Julien Gauthier
Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton
Joel Edmundson - Brett Pesce
Jake Gardiner - Trevor van Riemsdyk
Injuries and Scratches: Erik Haula (knee), Haydn Fleury (healthy)
As for the Canes’ opponent, Vancouver plays a loose style that yields some wild scorelines. Five days ago, they beat the Sabres by a score of 6-5; two weeks ago, they lost to the Pens 6-8. That being said, neither the Canes nor the Canucks tend to blow a lead. Combined, the teams are 23-1-1 when leading at the 2nd intermission.
Similar to Edmonton, Vancouver has an excellent power play; their 26.7% conversion rate is fourth in the league, one spot above the Canes’ 23.7%.
In goal, Vancouver will go with either Jacob Markstrom (8-8-3, .912 SV%, 2.72 GAA), who is the more likely of the two to start but who has dropped his last two starts, or they can turn to Thatcher Demko, who’s won his last two starts and has a better overall record (7-4-1, .906 SV%, 3.00 GAA). No matter who’s in net, there won’t be much to shoot at. Both goalies are listed at over 6’4”.
We expect the Canucks to line up like this:
Tanner Pearson - Bo Horvat - Josh Leivo
J.T. Miller - Elias Pettersson - Brock Boeser
Antoine Roussel - Adam Gaudette - Jake Virtanen
Jay Beagle - Tim Schaller - Zack MacEwan
Quinn Hughes - Tyler Myers
Jordie Benn - Chris Tanev
Oscar Fantenberg - Troy Stecher
Injuries and Scratches: Alexander Edler (upper-body), Tyler Motte (lower-body), Tyler Graovac (healthy), Brandon Sutter (groin), Micheal Ferland (undisclosed)