Things are slowly returning to normal for the Carolina Hurricanes, but while the COVID-19 wave that swept through the locker room has largely moved along, the repercussions are still being felt throughout the lineup.
The five players who were placed on the COVID protocol list last week, four of whom required a ten-day quarantine in a Nashville hotel, have all returned to Raleigh, and last night three players - Teuvo Teravainen, Warren Foegele and Jordan Martinook - were removed from the list altogether. However, after more than a week of being unable to practice, none of the three are expected to play tonight. They skated with the taxi squad yesterday, and it seems possible some or all could re-enter the lineup as early as tomorrow.
The same can’t be said for Jaccob Slavin or Jesper Fast, who remain on the COVID list. Fast was added a couple of days after the other players and likely still has a day or two remaining in the protocol, while Slavin was spotted at this morning’s skate observing but not participating. His availability for this weekend remains doubtful.
With all that in mind, the Hurricanes seem likely to use the same lineup that shut out the defending Stanley Cup champions two nights ago. That means another start for Petr Mrazek, whose 32-save whitewashing was his second shutout in three starts, making him the first goalie in franchise history to record shutouts in two of his first three games of the season.
We expect the Canes to line up like this:
Andrei Svechnikov - Sebastian Aho - Brock McGinn
Nino Niederreiter - Vincent Trocheck - Martin Necas
Steven Lorentz - Jordan Staal - Ryan Dzingel
Max McCormick - Morgan Geekie - Sheldon Rempal
Brady Skjei - Dougie Hamilton
Jake Gardiner - Brett Pesce
Haydn Fleury - Jake Bean
Injuries and Scratches: Jesper Fast (COVID protocol), Jaccob Slavin (COVID protocol), Warren Foegele (COVID recovery), Jordan Martinook (COVID recovery), Teuvo Teravainen (COVID recovery)
Taxi squad: Alex Nedeljkovic, Joakim Ryan
A preseason COVID cluster resulted in 17 members of the Dallas Stars testing positive and forced the postponement of the Stars’ first four games of the season. Once they finally got on the ice, though, the defending Western Conference champions haven’t missed a beat, tallying seven goals in half of their four games so far while roaring out to a 4-0 record. They’re just three points behind the division-leading Blue Jackets despite holding five (!) games in hand.
Six players have scored at a point per game clip in the Stars’ first four games, led by the ageless Joe Pavelski with nine points. In fact, other than Patrik Laine who had three points in his only game this season, five Stars sit atop the league’s points-per-game leaderboard.
As if the Stars weren’t terrifying enough offensively, Anton Khudobin has picked up where he left off last season. The onetime Hurricane leads the league with a 0.99 goals-against average and a .958 save percentage, both of which are just ahead of Mrazek’s similarly sterling numbers. After ceding the net to Jake Oettinger on Thursday, Khudobin will be back in the crease tonight looking to improve on his 6-1-1 all-time record against Carolina.
Here’s how the Stars will look tonight:
Jamie Benn - Justin Dowling - Denis Gurianov
Tanner Kero - Joe Pavelski - Alexander Radulov
Andrew Cogliano - Radek Faksa - Ty Dellandrea
Joel L’Esperance - Jason Dickinson - Nick Caamano
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Jamie Oleksiak - Miro Heiskanen
Andrej Sekera - Mark Pysyk
Injuries and Scratches: Roope Hintz (lower body), Taylor Fedun (healthy), Joel Hanley (healthy), Tyler Seguin (non-roster hip), Blake Comeau (non-roster COVID recovery), Ben Bishop (LTIR knee), Stephen Johns (LTIR post-concussion)
Taxi squad: Rhett Gardiner, Jason Robertson, Julius Honka, Landon Bow