The regular season is nowhere near worthless now, though, as the Hurricanes prepare for a two-game set in Tennessee against the Predators with the Presidents’ Trophy and guaranteed home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs on the line.
Two wins, coupled with at least one loss from the Vegas Golden Knights in their three remaining games would result in the Canes being Presidents’ Trophy winners in the 2021 season.
While they don’t control their own destiny anymore after securing just one point against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday, they certainly remain in a very advantageous position and can put all the pressure on Vegas.
Tonight is the start of that mission, against a team which they have not lost to in six head-to-head matchups this season. This will be a very interesting conclusion to the season because, in addition to having Presidents’ Trophy aspirations, the Canes also play a big role in who they will face in the first round of the playoffs.
If the Predators, who are currently two points up on the Dallas Stars for the final playoff spot in the division, win one of these two games, they will clinch the fourth seed in the division and a date with the Hurricanes in the first round.
If the Hurricanes sweep their final two games and the Stars win out against the Blackhawks on Sunday and Monday, Dallas will be the fourth seed. If the Canes win both of their games in regulation time, the Stars would need just three out of four points.
There are plenty of important things still up in the air for the Hurricanes and Predators. Expect these games to be as close to playoff hockey as you can get because these games are essentially playoff games with regards to their relevance to both clubs.
Oh, and the Canes are looking to set a franchise record by earning at least one standings point in 14 consecutive games.
So there’s that.
Carolina Hurricanes Projected Lineup
Rod Brind’Amour echoed the sentiments of this game being very important during his morning Zoom call. These games have serious meaning, both in their regular season standing and in getting everything right before the playoffs begin.
They will go with the same forward lines and defensive pairings that we saw against Chicago and Alex Nedeljkovic (15-4-3, .932 SV%, 1.89 GAA) will be between the pipes.
Andrei Svechnikov - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Nino Niederreiter - Vincent Trocheck - Martin Necas
Warren Foegele - Jordan Staal - Jesper Fast
Max McCormick - Steven Lorentz - Morgan Geekie
Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton
Brady Skjei - Brett Pesce
Jake Bean - Jani Hakanpaa
Injuries and scratches: Brock McGinn (upper-body), Cedric Paquette (lower-body), Jordan Martinook (lower-body), Jake Gardiner (healthy), James Reimer (healthy)
Taxi Squad: Drew Shore, Joakim Ryan, Roland McKeown
Nashville Predators Projected Lineup
Nashville is coming off of a two-day layoff following their 4-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday.
Jusse Saros (20-11-1, .927 SV%, 2.32 GAA) is expected to get the nod in the net for the Preds. The rest of their projected lineup is based on how they arranged things in Columbus.
Filip Forsberg - Ryan Johansen - Eeli Tolvanen
Carl 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
Ben Harpur - Dante Fabbro
Injuries and scratches: Luca Sbisa (IR - upper-body), Mark Borowiecki (IR - upper-body), Mathieu Olivier (IR - lower-body), Erik Gudbranson (healthy), David Farrance (healthy), Jeremy Davis (healthy), Nick Cousins (healthy), Matt Benning (healthy)
Taxi Squad: Kasimir Kaskisuo, Michael McCarron, Rem Pitlick, Tyler Lewington