The Hurricanes’ first extended road trip of the season begins tonight with the first of two games against the Chicago Blackhawks, and fortunately for the Canes, they will be closer to a full lineup than they’ve been at any point since returning from their COVID-necessitated hiatus last Thursday.
Jesper Fast remains the only player on the COVID list, and the Hurricanes reassigned Sheldon Rempal, Drew Shore and Joey Keane to the Chicago Wolves yesterday. That would lead to the conclusion that a good number of players formerly in the COVID protocol are ready to return, and Rod Brind’Amour confirmed as much following the morning skate.
Teuvo Teravainen, Warren Foegele, Jordan Martinook and Jaccob Slavin will return to the lineup, so the Hurricanes are almost back to full strength - with one big exception. Petr Mrazek, as Andrew detailed yesterday, is going to be out for a while, so the bulk of the goaltending responsibilities will fall on the shoulders of James Reimer for the foreseeable future. Alex Nedeljkovic will get spot starts in certain games, and the Canes recalled Antoine Bibeau to the taxi squad to serve as the third goalie, but the show is Reimer’s until further notice.
Here is how the Canes will line up, according to the team website:
Brock McGinn - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Nino Niederreiter - Vincent Trocheck - Martin Necas
Andrei Svechnikov - Jordan Staal - Warren Foegele
Ryan Dzingel - Morgan Geekie - Jordan Martinook
Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton
Brady Skjei - Brett Pesce
Jake Gardiner - Haydn Fleury
Injuries and Scratches: Max McCormick (IR upper body), Petr Mrazek (upper body), Jesper Fast (COVID protocol)
Taxi squad: Steven Lorentz, Jake Bean, Joakim Ryan, Antoine Bibeau
Preseason prognostications, including on this very site, that consigned the Chicago Blackhawks to the depths of the NHL standings in part because of their shambolic goaltending situation clearly did not offer due respect to...uh...
The undrafted Finnish netminder, signed as a free agent in 2018 after four seasons in Liiga, has been a revelation so far, posting a 3-1-2 record with a 1.97 GAA and .937 save percentage. Far from being the disaster many anticipated, the Blackhawks are right in the thick of the division race so far, and with the likes of Alex DeBrincat (returning tonight from a stint on the COVID list) and Patrick Kane still on the roster, it’s not far-fetched to think that the Blackhawks will be more of a factor in a short season.
Of the two former Hurricanes on the roster, Calvin de Haan will be in the lineup but Lucas Wallmark will miss out tonight, sidelined due to COVID protocol. Here is how we anticipate Jeremy Colliton’s club to line up:
Alex DeBrincat - Philipp Kurashev - Patrick Kane
Dominik Kubalik - Dylan Strome - Brandon Hagel
Mattias Janmark - Carl Soderberg - Andrew Shaw
Matthew Highmore - David Kampf - Pius Suter
Duncan Keith - Ian Mitchell
Calvin de Haan - Connor Murphy
Nikita Zadorov - Lucas Carlsson
Injuries and Scratches: Lucas Wallmark (COVID protocol), Adam Boqvist (COVID protocol), Ryan Carpenter (COVID protocol), Collin Delia (healthy), Brent Seabrook (IR back), Zack Smith (IR back), Kirby Dach (LTIR wrist), Jonathan Toews (LTIR undisclosed), Alex Nylander (IR knee)
Taxi Squad: Wyatt Kalynuk, Michal Teply, Mackenzie Entwistle, Brandon Pirri, Anton Lindholm