The Carolina Hurricanes (32-21-3, 67pts) return home tonight for their first home game since February 2nd.
Since the All-Star break, the Canes have gone 3-3, with two of the three wins coming in overtime shootouts. With the Metro division race still tight, the Canes need a win tonight to keep pace.
The key to getting back in a playoff spot? The return of a robust forecheck that leads to possession and shots on goal. After regularly posting 40+ shots back in December, the Canes haven’t posted a 40+ shot effort since January 3rd against the Capitals. In contrast, they’ve been held to fewer than 30 shots eight times during that same period (they lost all but two of those games).
The top line of Svech-Aho-Turbo appears intact, while the others remain in flux. Expect the coaching staff to continue to experiment with the bottom nine forwards until something clicks into place.
In net, James Reimer (14-6-1, .917 SV%, 2.61 GAA) remains the hot hand. “Big James” has won four straight and has secured at least a point for the Canes in seven straight.
For a little perspective, his save percentage (.917) is 20th in the league — just behind All-Star Andrei Vasilevskiy (.921) and significantly ahead of All-Star Jordan Binnington (.909). Reimer is also on pace for his best GAA of his career (his career-best is 2.78 in ‘17-18) and within one shutout of tying his highest tally in any season(4).
That said, Petr Mrazek (18-15-2, .901 SV%, 2.74 GAA) will get the start tonight, instead, as the Canes look to try to get him going after the loss on Tuesday in Dallas.
The Canes’ expected lines:
Andrei Svechnikov - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Warren Foegele - Jordan Staal - Ryan Dzingel
Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Martin Necas
Brock McGinn - Lucas Wallmark - Justin Williams
Jaccob Slavin - Trevor van Riemsdyk
Jake Gardiner - Brett Pesce
Haydn Fleury - Joel Edmundson
Injuries and Scratches: Dougie Hamilton (IR leg), Jordan Martinook (upper-body)
The New Jersey Devils (21-25-10, 52pts) are enjoying their best stretch of the year. After dropping three straight going into the All-Star break, they’ve secured at least a point in six of their last seven games.
The Canes will need to limit a New Jersey power play that has been hot. The Devils have scored at least one power play goal in five straight games.
With MacKenzie Blackwood having played last night, expect Louis Domingue (3-6-2, .882 SV%, 3.74 GAA) to get the nod in goal. Domingue has really struggled recently. He’s lost five straight, although two of those losses were in overtime.
The Devils’ expected lines:
Jesper Bratt - Jack Hughes - Kyle Palmieri
Blake Coleman - Travis Zajac - Nikita Gusev
Miles Wood - Pavel Zacha - Wayne Simmonds
John Hayden - Kevin Rooney - Joey Anderson
Andy Greene - Damon Severson
Will Butcher - P.K. Subban
Mirco Mueller - Connor Carrick
Injuries and Scratches: Nico Hischier (knee), Sami Vatanen (leg)