Ten months ago, nearly to the day, the Carolina Hurricanes played their final regular season game of the 2019-20 season at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, a 5-2 Hurricanes win over the Detroit Red Wings that clinched the Red Wings’ spot in the league basement, even if the season had played out to its planned conclusion.
The world has changed in remarkable ways since last March 10, yet here the Hurricanes are, starting the 2021 season in the same arena where their last season finished, the pandemic still raging and the NHL’s universe looking nothing like it did at this time last year.
Tonight will be the first of two straight games between the Hurricanes and Red Wings in Detroit, a rarity in years past but standard operating procedure this season. Familiarity breeds contempt, of course, and the two-game series that the NHL will feature this year, which more resemble baseball than hockey, are likely to draw allusions to Stanley Cup playoff series.
Rod Brind’Amour will start the season without last year’s most explosive line together, in an attempt to not load up the top of the lineup by putting Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrei Svechnikov together. The two Finns will be joined by Nino Niedeerreiter, while Svechnikov will begin this season in the same spot he started last season: on the left wing of Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal.
Here’s how the Canes are projected to line up:
Nino Niederreiter - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Andrei Svechnikov - Jordan Staal - Martin Necas
Warren Foegele - Vincent Trocheck - Jesper Fast
Ryan Dzingel - Jordan Martinook - Brock McGinn
Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton
Brady Skjei - Brett Pesce
Jake Gardiner - Haydn Fleury
Scratch: Anton Forsberg (healthy)
Taxi squad: Steven Lorentz, Max McCormick, Morgan Geekie, Jake Bean, Joakim Ryan, Alex Nedeljkovic
The Red Wings were historically bad last season. Carolina was 3-0 against Detroit, sweeping the season series for only the third time ever and the first time in a series of more than a single game. But, while the Red Wings still face a tall order to make a run at a playoff spot this season, they are undoubtedly improved from their bottoming out last season. The top line, centered by newly-named captain Dylan Larkin, is legitimate, and new number-one goalie Thomas Greiss has historically been successful against the Hurricanes, posting a 7-4-4 record against Carolina during his five years with the New York Islanders.
Here’s how the Red Wings will begin the new season:
Tyler Bertuzzi - Dylan Larkin - Anthony Mantha
Vladislav Namestnikov - Robby Fabbri - Filip Zadina
Matthias Brome - Valtteri Filppula - Sam Gagner
Michael Rasmussen - Luke Glendening - Frans Nielsen
Patrik Nemeth - Filip Hronek
Danny DeKeyser - Jon Merrill
Marc Staal - Troy Stecher
Scratches: Christian Djoos (COVID protocol), Darren Helm (COVID protocol), Bobby Ryan (undisclosed), Adam Erne (healthy), Alex Biega (healthy)
Taxi squad: Dennis Cholowski, Gustav Lindstrom, Kevin Boyle, Calvin Pickard, Givani Smith