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Carolina Hurricanes vs. Tampa Bay Lightning: Game Preview and Storm Advisory

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The Hurricanes’ long awaited home opener is finally here.

NHL: JAN 05 Lightning at Hurricanes Photo by Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After having four games postponed due to a COVID-related shutdown, the Carolina Hurricanes are finally back and ready for action. Sure, they’ll have 53 games to play over a span of 101 days—and that’s barring any additional postponements—but that’s a problem to contemplate in the future.

The Hurricanes make their home debut tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have played just four games so far, thanks to the cascading issues brought on by games being postponed around the Central Division.

Vital Statistics

Category Hurricanes Blue Jackets
Category Hurricanes Blue Jackets
Record 21-7-3 13-13-7
Goals/Game 3.23 2.54
Goals Against/Game 2.48 3.12
Shots/Game 31.52 28.70
Face Off Win % 54.4% 46.2%
Power Play % (Rank) 30.6% (1st) 14.8% (26th)
Penalty Kill % (Rank) 82.9% (9th) 74.0% (26th)
ES Corsi For % 53.04% 46.16%
ES PDO 100.96 99.42
PIM/Game 07:21 06:43

Goaltender #1

Category James Reimer Joonas Korpisalo
Category James Reimer Joonas Korpisalo
Record 12-4-1 8-10-5
Save % 0.909 .900
GAA 2.68 2.98

Goaltender #2

Category Alex Nedeljkovic Elvis Merzlikins
Category Alex Nedeljkovic Elvis Merzlikins
Record 7-2-2 5-3-2
Save % .930 .912
GAA 1.96 2.91

Game Notes

  • Hurricanes games may be resuming, but they’ll still be playing with a depleted roster, as five players are still on the COVID protocol-related absence list: Jesper Fast, Warren Foegele, Jordan Martinook, Jaccob Slavin and Teuvo Teravainen. Jordan Staal, who has been removed from the list and practiced the last two days, is expected to play tonight.
  • Steven Lorentz is already confirmed to be making his NHL debut tonight. Lorentz, a 2015 seventh-round draft pick, has spent the past three seasons in the AHL and ECHL, capturing a Calder Cup with the Charlotte Checkers in 2019. Sheldon Rempal, signed in free agency after the Los Angeles Kings didn’t extend a qualifying offer to him, may also be drawing in on the fourth line, and Jake Bean will likely make his season debut on the blue line.
  • With the Hurricanes’ last game taking place about a week and a half ago, there isn’t much to compare to, in regards to players on hot streaks or lines that were particularly clicking. Much like bye weeks or holiday breaks, this is almost a reset for the team, a chance to erase bad habits and start fresh.
  • If the Hurricanes want to model themselves after another team returning after a COVID delay, they should take a few lessons from the Dallas Stars, who have 12 goals over three games and are undefeated, despite playing with a depleted roster. The key to their success? A red-hot power play. The Hurricanes are currently in the middle of the pack in the league, with a 25% conversion rate through their three games. The Lightning have a fairly average penalty kill, so the Hurricanes may find themselves in a position to chip in some goals on the man advantage tonight.
  • The Tampa Bay Lightning have just one loss this season, a 5-2 game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. Ever since the Blue Jackets swept the Lightning in the playoffs, matchups between these two have been constantly emotional, with this game no exception. Two Lightning players were lost to injury in that matchup: defenseman Erik Cernak is considered day-to-day with an upper body injury, and forward Mitchell Stephens is out indefinitely with an upper body injury.
  • As always, watch out for Steven Stamkos. Fully healthy, he says he feels better than he has at any point in the past year, and he’s making an impact on the ice, leading the Lightning in scoring with six points through four games. A vaguely injured Stamkos was always dangerous; a healthy Stamkos could be a menace for the Hurricanes.

Storm Advisory

  • The Chicago Wolves dominated in their first and only preseason game, winning 6-1 over the Rockford IceHogs. Hurricanes prospects David Cotton, Jason Cotton, and Jamieson Rees all contributed goals. [Wolves]
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins announced on Wednesday that general manager Jim Rutherford has resigned, effective immediately, citing family reasons. Patrik Allvin will serve as interim general manager. Allvin is the first Swede to hold a general manager position, interim or otherwise [Penguins]
  • The transition away from the Fox Sports regional networks is complete; Sinclair and Bally’s announced that the networks will now be known as Bally Sports. Fox Sports Carolinas will be shut down; Hurricanes games will be carried on Bally Sports Southeast. [Sports Business Daily]
  • Don Waddell, along with general managers from the four other teams who have had games postponed, speaks with Pierre LeBrun about moving forward with the season. [The Athletic $]
  • Nomads no more, the San Jose Sharks finally have approval to go home:
  • Justin Faulk, the Blues’ best defenseman? It’s not as crazy as you think. [The Athletic $]
  • If you would ever like to offer a rebuttal to people who assume that the Hurricanes, as a whole, are an exceedingly small team, there are some stats here to help you make your case. [The Athletic $]
  • Action continues in the NWHL’s condensed bubble season, with the Toronto Six earning their first win in franchise history yesterday, and a game winning goal scored by the Minnesota Whitecaps with just under 11 seconds left in what had been a double shutout. [The Ice Garden]