Oh hey, hockey. We missed you.
The Canes aren’t in a playoff position #fornow, but they’re at least in the discussion, and hopeful the momentum from their successful western Canada road trip allows them to pick up from where they left off in January.
Tonight’s lineup won’t deviate much from the lineup they attempted to ice in their last three games before Micheal Ferland suffered an upper body concern that sidelined him during the trip. He’ll return to the top line with Justin Williams, anchored by All Star extraordinaire Sebastian Aho.
Haydn Fleury was recalled yesterday, then sent back to Charlotte today to play for the Checkers tonight. Petr Mrazek will start in net, and Curtis McElhinney will return to back up after missing the road trip with a lower body concern.
Both the Canes and Golden Knights are returning from their bye weeks. After missing seven games with an undisclosed injury, forward Reilly Smith appears ready to return to the lineup, skating this morning with William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault. After practice, head coach Gerard Gallant reported Smith to be a game-time decision. If he’s unable to rejoin the roster, Brandon Pirri will likely take his spot and Oscar Lindberg will draw in. Defenseman Nick Holden is not on the trip with the team; he was placed on injured reserve today in order to make room for Smith’s return. Vegas also recalled Jake Bischoff yesterday and he may claim Jon Merrill’s spot on defense. Fresh off his All Star Game appearance, Marc-Andre Fleury will get an extra day’s rest, and Maxime Lagace will start in net tonight.
Last but not least, forward Valentin Zykov is expected to be in the lineup tonight to face his former team. Zykov was claimed off waivers by the Golden Knights on Dec. 29 and has played in one previous game for them. Canes Country alumnus Cory Lavalette had a lot to report about Zykov in his weekly Category 5 series for North State Journal, and it makes for a good pre-game read.
Hurricanes Projected Lineup
Nino Niederreiter – Sebastian Aho – Justin Williams
Micheal Ferland – Lucas Wallmark – Teuvo Teravainen
Andrei Svechnikov – Jordan Martinook – Brock McGinn
Warren Foegele – Greg McKegg – Saku Maenalanen
Jaccob Slavin – Dougie Hamilton
Brett Pesce – Justin Faulk
Calvin de Haan – Trevor van Riemsdyk
Injuries and Scratches: Jordan Staal (upper body; injured reserve)
Golden Knights Projected Lineup
Jonathan Marchessault - William Karlsson – Reilly Smith
Max Pacioretty - Paul Stastny – Alex Tuch
Brandon Pirri – Cody Eakin – Ryan Carpenter
Tomas Nosek – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb – Nate Schmidt
Shea Theodore – Deryk Engelland
Jon Merrill – Colin Miller
Injuries and Scratches: Jake Bischoff (healthy), William Carrier (IR undisclosed), Erik Haula (IR knee), Nick Holden (undisclosed), Oscar Lindberg (healthy), Malcolm Subban (IR illness)