Things could be going slightly better for the Carolina Hurricanes at the moment.
It’s not just the three losses in their past four games that have the Hurricanes a little off-kilter, but the fact that fully half of their starting defense is missing due to Covid-19 protocols makes things that much more precarious. Ethan Bear may be able to return in time for Thursday’s game against Ottawa, but for tonight it’s going to be a festival of call-ups on defense, and Jaccob Slavin may well skate into the ground given that Rod Brind’Amour is likely to call on him for literally every other shift.
The capitulation against Washington on Sunday hasn’t yet prompted a shakeup in the forward lines, but one would think that it won’t take long for Rod Brind’Amour’s line mixer to get a workout. With both of the top power-play defensemen on the shelf, the forwards are going to be called upon to carry the scoring load, and by any means necessary.
Here’s how the Hurricanes will look:
Teuvo Teravainen - Sebastian Aho - Martin Necas
Andrei Svechnikov - Vincent Trocheck - Seth Jarvis
Nino Niederreiter - Jordan Staal - Jesper Fast
Jordan Martinook - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Derek Stepan
Jaccob Slavin - Ian Cole
Brady Skjei - Jalen Chatfield
Brendan Smith - Max Lajoie
Injuries and Scratches: Brett Pesce (Covid protocol), Tony DeAngelo (Covid protocol), Ethan Bear (Covid protocol), Steven Lorentz (healthy)
We all fondly remember the days of yore when the Hurricanes and Dallas Stars were division rivals, right? The pandemic-forced realignment put the two teams in a marriage of convenience, and while the Hurricanes lived up to expectations and then some by winning the division, the Stars fell flat the year after a run to the Stanley Cup Final, missing the playoffs by four points.
That prompted changes, most notably in goal where the Stars signed Braden Holtby as a reclamation project while waiting out the return of Ben Bishop. What no one expected was that Jake Oettinger would make the Stars’ goaltender logjam even more crowded by playing out of his mind recently. They’re still a week or so away from Bishop’s expected return to action, but you’d think that Oettinger would get to ride his .967 save percentage and 3-0 record over the past week into tonight’s game, right?
Well, you would be wrong, because for some reason Holtby will get the start tonight, to the befuddlement of most everyone. We know that the Canes will never admit to being glad to see one goalie over another, but if you were them, would you rather see a guy who posted marks of 2-1-1 and .938 against you last year (and was the league’s best goaltender last week), or one who hasn’t made consecutive starts in a month and the last time he did so he gave up seven goals to the likes of the Senators and Jets?
Anyway, enough second-guessing; here’s how the Stars will look tonight:
Jason Robertson - Roope Hintz - Joe Pavelski
Michael Raffl - Jamie Benn - Denis Gurianov
Joel Kiviranta - Tyler Seguin - Luke Glendening
Jacob Peterson - Radek Faksa - Alexander Radulov
Ryan Suter - John Klingberg
Esa Lindell - Miro Heiskanen
Andrej Sekera - Jani Hakanpaa
Injuries and Scratches: Anton Khudobin (healthy), Ben Bishop (LTIR knee), Tanner Kero (healthy), Joel Hanley (healthy)
Referees: Corey Syvret #23, Frederick L’Ecuyer #17
Linesmen: Trent Knorr #74, Tyson Baker #88