The Carolina Hurricanes return home for the regular season home finale on Thursday. A ton is on the line, as the Canes cling to a playoff spot by a single point with only two games remaining. Thursday’s opponent, the New Jersey Devils, may have been lost in the shuffle. But for the Canes, tonight is mostly about their ability to translate the expected energy in the building into a composed, disciplined, and controlled effort on the ice.
Canes captain Justin Williams, recently awarded the Steve Chiasson Award by his teammates for his determination and dedication to the team, continues to lead the way in every way possible. The 37-year-old has posted a phenomenal season with 23 goals and 52 total points to date, and started the scoring again on Tuesday in the Canes pivotal 4-1 victory in Toronto.
Despite the extended run of alternating goalies through much of the second half, Rod Brind’Amour has elected to return immediately to Petr Mrazek in net on Thursday with the possibility of clinching a playoff spot at hand. Mrazek only has one appearance this season against the Devils, a 3-2 defeat in Newark on February 10th. Below is the projected lineup for Brind’Amour for tonight’s final home game:
Nino Niederreiter - Sebastian Aho - Justin Williams
Micheal Ferland - Jordan Staal - Teuvo Teravainen
Andrei Svechnikov - Lucas Wallmark - Jordan Martinook
Warren Foegele - Greg McKegg - Brock McGinn
Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton
Brett Pesce - Justin Faulk
Haydn Fleury - Trevor van Riemsdyk
Injuries and scratches: Calvin de Haan (upper body), Saku Mananlanen (healthy)
The New Jersey Devils arrive in Raleigh attempting to play the role of spoiler on Thursday. Despite the rough season and the current depletion of their roster due to injury, the Devils have posted a solid 3-1-1 record in their last five outings. Nevertheless, the losses of the reigning Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall, arguably the second-best offensive player in Kyle Palmieri, and a top-pairing defenseman in Sami Vatanen is certainly a tangible blow for a team that entered the season with postseason expectations.
Cory Schneider has missed significant time due to injury, having logged only 22 starts, but he will be in net on Thursday for the Devils. The Canes were able to beat Schneider twice in a 2-1 Carolina victory in Schneider’s only start against the Canes this season.
Below are the lines from the Devils morning skate on Thursday:
Kenny Agostino - Nico Hischier - Blake Coleman
Miles Wood - Travis Zajac - Joey Anderson
Drew Stafford - Pavel Zacha - Michael McLeod
Stefan Noesen - Kevin Rooney - Nathan Bastien
Andy Greene - Damon Severson
Mirco Mueller - Connor Carrick
Will Butcher - Steven Santini