Tonight, the Carolina Hurricanes (30-19-3, 63pts) get started on a four-game road trip, a change of pace from January when they played nine of eleven games at home. In February, the Canes have a more balanced schedule, with six home and seven away games. With one home game already in the books, a shootout win over the Vancouver Canucks, the Canes hit the road for their longest stretch since mid-December.
Their four opponents on this road trip — St. Louis, Arizona, Dallas, and Vegas — all currently hold Western Conference playoff spots. Tonight’s opponent, the St. Louis Blues (31-14-8, 70pts), currently sit on top of the Western Conference standings.
Coach Rod Brind’Amour will continue to rotate his top-12 forwards. Ryan Dzingel was the odd man out on Sunday. He will draw back into the lineup, with Lucas Wallmark cycling out. That leaves Martin Necas, Brock McGinn and potentially Warren Foegele as the players you could expect to see as a healthy scratch at some point in the road trip (assuming that all 13 forwards remain healthy).
Tonight marks the return to St. Louis for Joel Edmundson, who will receive his Stanley Cup ring with his parents in the building on the Blues’ dime. Edmundson, a Blues second-round pick in 2011, is happy in his new surroundings and fondly looks back at his time in St. Louis, he told Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic in an article today that’s very much worth your time.
In net, Petr Mrazek (18-13-2, .904 SV%, 2.63 GAA) should be the choice after James Reimer went on Sunday. Mrazek won 10 of his first 13 starts this year, but he’s been under .500 since then. The worrying trend has actually gotten worse in 2020, where he’s just 2-5-0 so far in the calendar year. It’s unfair to put all those losses on Mrazek, but it is what it is. It’s hard to be confident in net when you’re losing games. Starting out with a road win over the best team in the West could be just what he needs.
The Canes’ expected lines:
Andrei Svechnikov - Sebastian Aho - Warren Foegele
Nino Niederreiter - Jordan Staal - Teuvo Teravainen
Brock McGinn - Erik Haula - Justin Williams
Ryan Dzingel - Jordan Martinook - Martin Necas
Jaccob Slavin - Trevor van Riemsdyk
Jake Gardiner - Brett Pesce
Haydn Fleury - Joel Edmundson
Injuries and Scratches: Dougie Hamilton (IR leg), Lucas Wallmark (healthy)
St. Louis has been the heart of hockey for the last twelve months.
The Blues kicked off 2019 by going on a run from worst to first. They won the Stanley Cup. They’ve followed that up in this season by taking the lead in the Western Conference standings. And, to top it all off, they just hosted All-Star weekend.
I guess when it rains it pours.
The Blues are loaded with talent — they sent four players to the All-Star game. And, arguably, their most talented player, Vladimir Tarasenko, is out injured.
It’s also the first game where Justin Faulk lines up against the Hurricanes. The former Cane is part of the third pairing for the Blues after headlining the September trade that brought Edmundson to Raleigh.
The Blues’ expected lines:
Jaden Schwartz - Robert Thomas - Brayden Schenn
Zach Sanford - Ryan O’Reilly - David Perron
Alexander Steen - Tyler Bozak - Jordan Kyrou
Sammy Blais - Ivan Barbashev - Troy Brouwer
Carl Gunnarsson - Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester - Colton Parayko
Vince Dunn - Justin Faulk
Injuries and Scratches: Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder), Oskar Sundqvist (lower-body)