March has arrived. If the Carolina Hurricanes (35-24-5, 75pts) are going to make the playoffs for the second-straight year, their game will need to arrive as well.
Before we get down to business, a few breaking news stories to sort out:
First, Sami Vatanen apparently aggravated his foot injury in the morning skate in Philadelphia. It’s unclear how bad it is, but it doesn’t sound good:
Brind’Amour said he doesn’t expect Vatanen back any time soon after a setback in today’s skate— Sara Civ (@SaraCivian) March 5, 2020
Second, Tripp Tracy is now on Twitter and it is just as you would expect. (Read his tweets in his voice and they’re even better.) Video evidence below of Ben Franklin’s status as A Huge Caniac:
The Great Ben Franklin may not be captured here or above City Hall here in Philly, but it cannot be debated that he is in fact A Huge Caniac from up above ! Go Canes ! pic.twitter.com/iSD777OyhN— TrippTracy (@TrippTracy1) March 5, 2020
Lastly, tonight’s game is on NBCSN. However, if you, like me, have been concerned over the dispute between YouTube TV and Sinclair Broadcasting (which owns the Fox Regional Sports Networks), rest easy. The two sides have agreed to a deal and FS Carolinas will remain part of the YouTube TV package:
YouTube TV subscribers: We’re pleased to reach a new agreement with YouTube TV.— FOX Sports Carolinas (@CanesOnFSCR) March 5, 2020
Most YouTube TV subscribers will continue to see @Canes games and all the comprehensive coverage on FOX Sports Carolinas.
The Canes are coming off of a 4-3 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens that closed the book on February, where the team went 6-5-2. The loss to the Canadiens was the Canes’ third straight. Their last win was the emotional Dave Ayers game in Toronto on February 22nd — twelve calendar days ago.
The injuries to Brett Pesce, Petr Mrazek, and James Reimer have obviously hurt the Canes, who haven’t held an opponent under three goals since the Nashville game on February 18th.
In terms of offense, the power play has gone cold. Throughout the current three-game losing streak, the Canes are zero for their last nine with the man advantage.
With the team sputtering both offensively and defensively, expect the coaching staff to mix up forward lines and defensive pairings. With all the injuries and trades, the coaches need to find combinations that work — and fast.
Last weekend, the Svechnikov-Aho-Teravainen line was split up, with Svechnikov playing alongside Trocheck and Necas. Who knows if that line remains intact for long, but the Canes need to get Trocheck going. The new addition has yet to register a point since joining the team.
Ryan Dzingel also needs to find his scoring touch. His last goal came on January 3rd against the Capitals. He’s now gone 23 games since finding the back of the net and nine games since registering an assist.
Alex Nedeljkovic (0-1-1, .857 SV%, 3.11 GAA) will get the start following his relief appearance in Montreal. The young goaltender deserves serious credit for helping the Canes to secure a point after falling behind 3-0 against the Canadiens. Ned made 18 saves before giving up the overtime goal that ended the game.
The Canes’ expected lines:
Nino Niederreiter - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Andrei Svechnikov - Vincent Trocheck - Martin Necas
Ryan Dzingel - Jordan Staal - Justin Williams
Warren Foegele - Jordan Martinook - Brock McGinn
Joel Edmundson - Jaccob Slavin
Haydn Fleury - Brady Skjei
Jake Gardiner - Trevor van Riemsdyk
Injuries and Scratches: Dougie Hamilton (IR leg), Brett Pesce (shoulder), Petr Mrazek (concussion), James Reimer (lower-body), Sami Vatanen (leg)
In notable contrast to the Canes, the Philadelphia Flyers (39-20-7, 85pts) are soaring. After last night’s 5-2 pummeling of the division-leading Washington Capitals, the Flyers are now 2nd in the Metro and only one point behind the Capitals.
The Flyers have won seven straight and twelve out of their last fifteen. Moreover, Philly has gone 14-4-4 against the Metro division this year — a striking difference to the Canes’ record of 6-11-1.
The Canes do get the benefit of catching a team playing the second night of a back-to-back, and without James van Riemsdyk, who broke his hand blocking a shot last night. So a good start is much needed and the stats back it up. The Canes are 24-3-2 when scoring first — something they haven’t done much of recently.
Carter Hart (22-12-3, .909 SV%, 2.51 GAA) is scheduled to get the start.
The Flyers’ expected lines:
Claude Giroux - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek
Scott Laughton - Kevin Hayes - Travis Konecny
Joel Farabee - Derek Grant - Tyler Pitlick
Michael Raffl - Nate Thompson - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Ivan Provorov - Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim - Philippe Myers
Robert Hagg - Justin Braun
Injuries and Scratches: Nolan Patrick (head), Oskar Lindblom (illness), James van Riemsdyk (hand)