For the Carolina Hurricanes, Game 6 will end with a farewell. What type of farewell is yet to be determined.
With the Washington Capitals leading the series 3-2, the outcome of tonight’s game will either lead to a winner-take-all Game 7 in Washington or the end of the Hurricanes’ season. Either way, the PNC Arena crowd will surely send the Canes off in deafening fashion.
The Canes will need all the help they can get from the home crowd. They’re coming off a Game 5 disaster that need not be rehashed here. Which players take the ice tonight is still to-be-determined, but this morning’s practice did leave hope that some faces who have been absent may return tonight.
In a series where the home team has scored the first goal - and gone on to win - each game, the Canes’ top two lines will need to start the game on time, ratchet up their physicality, and increase their production. The top line of Nino - Aho - Teuvo has combined for only 2 of the Hurricanes’ 12 goals in the series. The Cap’s top line of Ovechkin - Backstrom - Wilson have contributed 10 of their 14.
Even with the injuries to key players, the Canes depth forwards have more than held their own against the Caps. Playoff rookies like Warren Foegele, Brock McGinn, and Andrei Svechnikov have outplayed the likes of Lars Eller, Brett Connolly, and Andre Burakovsky.
The challenge now will be whether Carolina’s stars can break through before it is too late. The effort and execution on the powerplay must be better. The last opportunity for the Canes’ first unit to put pucks in the net - or for Rod Brind’Amour to alter its composition - is tonight.
Jordan Martinook (lower body), Andrei Svechnikov (concussion protocol), Micheal Ferland (upper body) and Haydn Fleury on the ice this morning.— Michael Smith (@MSmithCanes) April 22, 2019
Rod Brind'Amour: "We'll know when they get off this skate here who's able to go and make decisions from there." pic.twitter.com/iOUEtch0Pw
The status of Ferland, Svechnikov, and Martinook remains unknown. At this point, it appears all three are unavailable, even after skating this morning. Look for Patrick Brown, Clark Bishop and Saku Maenalanen to give way (in that order) if any or all can play.
Below is the Canes’ projected lineup:
Nino Niederreiter - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Brock McGinn - Jordan Staal - Justin William
Warren Foegele - Lucas Wallmark - Saku Maenalanen
Clark Bishop - Greg McKegg - Patrick Brown
Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton
Brett Pesce - Justin Faulk
Calvin de Haan - Trevor van Riemsdyk
Scratches: Andrei Svechnikov (concussion protocol), Micheal Ferland (upper body), Jordan Martinook (lower body), Haydn Fleury (healthy)
Washington is not expected to make any changes from Game 5. As always against the Caps, avoiding penalties will be key. The Washington power play is now 6 for 19 (32%) in the series. Washington also leads the first period scoring in the series 6-3 (each team has scored 9 goals following the first period).
Here’s how Washington will line up tonight:
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Carl Hagelin
Andre Burakovsky - Lars Eller - Brett Connolly
Chandler Stephenson - Nic Dowd - Devante Smith-Pelly
Jonas Siegenthaler - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Nick Jensen
Scratches: Michal Kempny (hamstring surgery), T.J. Oshie (collarbone surgery), Christian Djoos (healthy), Travis Boyd (healthy), Dmitrij Jaskin (healthy)