The 56-game regular season, which started back on Jan. 14, will come to an end for the Carolina Hurricanes Monday night, as the Canes will take on the Nashville Predators on the road for the final non-playoff game of the year.
The last time out the Canes lost to the Predators 3-1, their first loss to Nashville this season in the seventh meeting between the two teams. The Hurricanes and Predators, ending the season with back-to-back games in Nashville, should get even more familiar, as the teams will also face off in the first round of the playoffs, setting up the potential of anywhere from six to nine straight games against each other.
As far as the game on the ice Monday night, there are still a few seeding things up in the air for the Hurricanes. Carolina is still technically in contention for the President’s Trophy, though the chances are pretty slim.
For the Canes Monday a win or overtime loss would keep them alive, though either would still lead to Carolina needing a pretty specific result from Vegas’ final two games and Colorado’s final three. Even with a win Monday, Carolina could be eliminated if the Golden Knights beat the Avalanche later in the evening.
Also of some importance though will be securing a point, as a win or overtime loss would secure the Canes finishing with a better record than the North Division-leading Toronto Maple Leafs, ensuring home-ice advantage for Carolina through the third round of the playoffs.
Even with that undecided, it’ll be a different looking Canes team Monday as Rod Brind’Amour will rest some key players. Jaccob Slavin is dealing with a lower-body injury that Brind’Amour said he hopes is day-to-day, and he’ll be joined off the ice by Dougie Hamilton, Brett Pesce, Jordan Staal and Andrei Svechnikov Monday. Jordan Martinook will be back on the ice though after missing the last nine games.
With Slavin, Hamilton and Pesce sitting, Joey Keane will get the opportunity to make his NHL debut in Nashville. Keane, who was acquired by the Canes in exchange for Julien Gauthier last year, did say he would have family in the building.
Joey Keane: "It's been a tough season for everyone, but I'm very fortunate to be in this position, I'm just going to try to make the most of it and have fun."— Andrew Schnittker ꘩ (@aschnitt53) May 10, 2021
Off the ice for the Canes Monday, Staal was nominated for the Masterton Trophy, which is awarded each year by the PHWA to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey.” It’s a well-deserved recognition for Staal, who was one of three finalists for the award in 2018.
With Petr Mrazek in net, here’s how the Canes will lineup Monday in Nashville for the regular season finale:
Warren Foegele - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Nino Niederreiter - Vincent Trocheck - Martin Necas
Jordan Martinook - Steven Lorentz - Jesper Fast
Max McCormick - Drew Shore - Morgan Geekie
Jake Gardiner - Joey Keane
Brady Skjei - Jani Hakanpaa
Joakim Ryan - Jake Bean
Injuries and Scratches: Alex Nedeljkovic (healthy), Brock McGinn (upper body), Cedric Paquette (lower body), Brett Pesce (undisclosed), Jaccob Slavin (lower body), Jordan Staal (undisclosed), Andrei Svechnikov (undisclosed)
Taxi Squad: Roland McKeown
After clinching the Central Division’s fourth and final playoff spot with their win over the Hurricanes Saturday night, this one also won’t mean much for Nashville.
Other than building some momentum to roll into the first-round series against the Canes with, the Predators don’t have much to gain from a win Monday. Saturday was the big one for them, as Luke Kunin scored twice to establish a lead and former Hurricane Erik Haula netted one late to make it 3-1.
It’ll be veteran Pekka Rinne in net for Nashville Monday night for the regular season finale. Other than that it’s hard to know how the Predators will lineup Monday. This is how they hit the ice Saturday (with Rinne inserted for tonight), though there will likely be big changes to this with the playoff spot clinched:
Filip Forsberg - Ryan Johansen - Eeli Tolvanen
Calle Jarnkrok - Mikael Granlund - Luke Kunin
Brad Richardson - Erik Haula - Matt Duchene
Yakov Trenin - Colton Sissons - Tanner Jeannot
Roman Josi - Ryan Ellis
Mattias Ekholm - Alexandre Carrier
Matt Benning - Ben Harpur
Injuries and Scratches: Luca Sbisa (upper body, IR), Mark Borowiecki (upper body, IR), Mathieu Olivier (lower body, IR), Viktor Arvidsson (upper body), Dante Fabbro (healthy), Nick Cousins (healthy), Rocco Grimaldi (healthy), Erik Gudbranson (healthy)
Taxi Squad: Rem Pitlick, Kasimir Kaskisuo, Tyler Lewington, Michael McCarron