It’s been a minute since the Carolina Hurricanes visited what’s known in these parts as The Other Orange County.
The last time the Hurricanes faced the Anaheim Ducks on the road was October 18, 2019. It was just over two years ago, but in Pandemic Time it might as well have been twenty years ago. At the time the idea of a global pandemic wreaking havoc on all facets of life was confined to the pages of science-fiction novels.
But that game featured a sure sign of the impending global apocalypse, one that went largely unrecognized at the time. Let’s be honest: we probably should have known that the world was about to turn upside down when Haydn Fleury, he of zero goals in 95 career games, finally lit the lamp for the first time in the NHL.
The Hurricanes don’t have any of those unfortunate streaks on the line tonight, but what they do have is a chance to retake the Metropolitan Division lead after the Capitals, also on a western road trip, knocked off the Kings last night to grab the top spot. Their chances might be bolstered by the potential return of Brett Pesce, who is a game-time decision after giving it a whirl at the morning skate. Pesce will warm up and if he can go, Brendan Smith will likely sit to make room.
Sebastian Aho also had the morning off, so he’s dealing with something, but Rod Brind’Amour said that he expects his top center to be available and ready to go tonight. Frederik Andersen will get the start in net, facing the team with whom he started his career. He’s 2-1 against the Ducks in the handful of games he’s played against them.
Here’s how the Hurricanes will likely look, pending Pesce’s availability:
Andrei Svechnikov - Sebastian Aho - Seth Jarvis
Teuvo Teravainen - Vincent Trocheck - Martin Necas
Nino Niederreiter - Jordan Staal - Jesper Fast
Steven Lorentz - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Jordan Martinook
Jaccob Slavin - Ethan Bear
Brady Skjei - Brett Pesce
Tony DeAngelo - Ian Cole
Injuries and Scratches: Derek Stepan (healthy)
It’s safe to assume that no one had the Anaheim Ducks pegged to be perched atop the Pacific Division a week before Thanksgiving. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Ducks, mired in a rut that’s seen them miss the playoffs each of the past four seasons. Instead, Troy Terry has been on a roll, the ageless Ryan Getzlaf is third in the league (!!!!!!!) in assists with 17, and Isac Lundestrom and Trevor Zegras have surpassed expectations.
Sure, their schedule lately has seen them feast on the dregs of the league (oh, hello, two games against the hapless Canucks), but you can only play the teams that you’re scheduled to play, and the Ducks have made that schedule count, entering tonight on an eight-game winning streak.
Dallas Eakins was said to be on his last legs at the Pond, but never mind that; if his squad can keep up this pace, with only four regulation losses, the only question will be by how much he wins the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year.
Here’s how the Ducks will look tonight:
Adam Henrique - Ryan Getzlaf - Troy Terry
Sonny Milano - Trevor Zegras - Nicolas Deslauriers
Mason McTavish - Isac Lundestrom - Jakob Silfverberg
Derek Grant - Sam Steel - Sam Carrick
Hampus Lindholm - Jamie Drysdale
Cam Fowler - Josh Manson
Simon Benoit - Kevin Shattenkirk
Injuries and Scratches: Benoit-Olivier Groulx (healthy), Josh Mahura (healthy), Rickard Rakell (IR upper body), Max Comtois (IR upper body)
Referees: Ian Walsh #29, Steve Kozari #40
Linesmen: Caleb Apperson #77, Ryan Gibbons #58