It’s New Year’s Eve; time to bring down the curtain on 2019. And what a year it has been for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Exactly one year ago, the Canes beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1. Over the next five months, the team surged their way back into the playoffs, then dispatched two divisional rivals en route to the Conference Final.
Now, at the halfway mark of the 2019-20 season, it can safely be said that 2019 was one for the record books. The Canes totaled 110 points so far in the calendar year, breaking the old record for the franchise (106 in 2006).
The individual stats are impressive too. Consider Teuvo Teravainen’s 85 points (20g, 65a), Sebastian Aho’s 79 points (37g, 42a), Dougie Hamilton’s 65 points (28g, 37a), and Petr Mrazek’s 32-14-3 record. If those numbers were tallied over a full season, instead of a calendar year, they would be career highs for everyone except Aho (his 83 points in 2018-19 are his best).
Tonight, the Canes (23-14-2, 48pts) turn their attention to the Montreal Canadiens (18-15-6, 42pts); it’s a rematch of the season opener back on October 3rd, a game the Canes won in the shootout 4-3.
Coming off the win over the Capitals, several Canes enter tonight’s tilt riding point streaks. Lucas Wallmark’s career-best point streak stands at six games; Nino Niederreiter has covertly tallied a point in each of his last four.
In net, expect another start for Petr Mrazek (15-8-2, .900 SV%, 2.74 GAA). Although he’s played well, you have to go back to December 12th to find a start where Petr gave up fewer than three goals. The big reason for the uptick is the Canes’ recent struggles on the penalty kill. The last time they held an opponent without at least one PP goal: December 14th against the Flames.
Erik Haula did not skate the last two days, but he is expected to play tonight. Here are the Canes’ expected lines:
Nino Niederreiter - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Andrei Svechnikov - Jordan Staal - Warren Foegele
Ryan Dzingel - Erik Haula - Martin Necas
Brock McGinn - Lucas Wallmark - Jordan Martinook
Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton
Jake Gardiner - Brett Pesce
Joel Edmundson - Haydn Fleury
Injuries and Scratches: Trevor van Riemsdyk (healthy)
For the Montreal Canadiens, tonight marks the end of a seven-game road trip that started way back on December 17th against the Vancouver Canucks. The Canadiens are 3-3-0 on the trip, but all three of their wins came on the Western Canada stretch before Christmas. Since then, the Canadiens have lost two straight games (4-5 against TB and 5-6 against FLA).
The Canadiens are stout on the power play (24.3%, 6th overall, 1st on the road) but vulnerable on the penalty kill (76.5%, 25th overall, 22nd on the road).
They’re led by All-Star defenseman Shea Weber (12g, 19a), wingers Tomas Tatar (16g, 19a) and Brendan Gallagher (15g, 17a).
In goal, Charlie Lindgren will get his first start of the year in net. The 26-year-old Minnesotan has a career record of 8-8-2 with .912 save percentage and 2.89 goals-against-average.
Montreal’s expected lines:
Tomas Tatar - Phillip Danault - Brendan Gallagher
Artturi Lehkonen - Max Domi - Nick Suzuki
Nick Cousins - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Jordan Weal
Ryan Poehling - Nate Thompson - Riley Barber
Ben Chiarot - Shea Weber
Brett Kulak - Jeff Petry
Victor Mete - Cale Fleury
Injuries and Scratches: Noah Juulsen (upper-body), Paul Byron (knee), Jonathan Drouin (wrist), Joel Armia (upper-body)