Just like @HurricanesBot never misses an opportunity to tweet in all lower-case on game days when the Hurricanes play the Capitals, your humble correspondent never misses an opportunity to post the Brock McGinn goal as the lead photo for anything related to those games.
And with that, here we go with the first matchup of the year between the
Southeast Metro Division rivals, the first of just three games between the squads this year. (The addition of Seattle to the league required removing two division games, so every year the Canes face two division teams three times instead of four. This year, it’s the Caps and Blue Jackets.)
Despite losing Derek Stepan in the second period of Saturday’s win over the Flyers, he’s none the worse for wear today and took the morning skate as if he would play tonight. Paul Stastny took a maintenance day this morning, so keep an eye on him; if he can’t go, the Hurricanes may need to call someone up, because Calvin de Haan isn’t quite ready to return yet, preventing them from going with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.
Assuming Stastny plays tonight, here’s how we project the Hurricanes to line up:
Teuvo Teravainen - Sebastian Aho - Seth Jarvis
Andrei Svechnikov - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Martin Necas
Jordan Martinook - Jordan Staal - Jesper Fast
Stefan Noesen - Paul Stastny - Derek Stepan
Jaccob Slavin - Brent Burns
Brady Skjei - Brett Pesce
Dylan Coghlan - Jalen Chatfield
Injuries and Scratches: Calvin de Haan (¯\_(ツ)_/¯), Ondrej Kase (concussion), Max Pacioretty (LTIR Achilles)
Tonight wraps up a four-game road trip for the Capitals, who are 2-1 in the week they’ve been away from the District. Darcy Kuemper, the Stanley Cup-winning goaltender from last year, has stepped right in as the Caps’ undisputed #1 in net and has been solid in his seven starts, with his 4-3 record obscuring a quality .919 save percentage in the early going. In those three losses, the Caps are 0-for-12 on the power play, so it will be incumbent on the Canes to do everything possible to keep the Caps’ man advantage from cashing in tonight.
The Caps have started the season with remarkably balanced scoring: after Alex Ovechkin’s team-leading seven points, there are four players with six points apiece, and six (!) with five points each. By comparison, the Hurricanes only have five players with five or more points so far this season. Unless they can figure out a way to clone the Jordan Staal line prior to 7:00 tonight, every grouping is going to need to be on their toes, because the Caps can and will score from anywhere in the lineup.
Two of those 11 players with five or more points will be on the sidelines tonight; T.J. Oshie and John Carlson suffered lower body injuries on Saturday in Nashville and won’t play tonight.
Here’s how they’ll line up:
Alex Ovechkin - Dylan Strome - Conor Sheary
Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Connor McMichael
Aliaksei Protas - Lars Eller - Anthony Mantha
Beck Malenstyn - Nic Dowd - Garnet Hathaway
Dmitry Orlov - Trevor van Riemsdyk
Martin Fehervary - Nick Jensen
Erik Gustafsson - Matt Irwin
Injuries and Scratches: T.J. Oshie (lower body), John Carlson (lower body), Tom Wilson (IR knee), Connor Brown (IR lower body), Nicklas Backstrom (LTIR hip), Carl Hagelin (LTIR hip), Joe Snively (healthy)
Referees: Francois St. Laurent #8, Furman South #13
Linesmen: Matt MacPherson #83, Kyle Flemington #55