After the All-Star Break, it seemed like the Carolina Hurricanes might have finally turned the corner and put their revolving door of injuries behind them. Alas, those glory days only lasted for a couple of weeks.
It will be a while before we see Tony DeAngelo back in the lineup, and Brendan Smith will be out for a decent bit of time himself. The result is a severely depleted Hurricanes blue line, necessitating a callup for Jalen Chatfield and no doubt plenty of fingers crossed that they don’t lose any more defensemen from what’s already a unit stretched perilously thin. (On the bright side, Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce are a pairing yet again!)
The good news is that while the defense might be threadbare, the Hurricanes are at full power up front. Keep an eye on Steven Lorentz tonight, who has taken two shots against the Blue Jackets this season and has scored two goals (both in that wacky four-goal comeback on New Year’s Day). He is On Pace™ to set an NHL record with a 100% shooting percentage against a single opponent. Best of luck to him.
Here’s how the Canes will line up tonight:
Andrei Svechnikov - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Seth Jarvis - Vincent Trocheck - Martin Necas
Nino Niederreiter - Jordan Staal - Jesper Fast
Steven Lorentz - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Jordan Martinook
Jaccob Slavin - Brett Pesce
Brady Skjei - Jalen Chatfield
Ian Cole - Ethan Bear
Injuries and Scratches: Tony DeAngelo (midsection), Brendan Smith (concussion), Derek Stepan (healthy)
Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets look at the Hurricanes’ troubles on the blue line, then look at their goalie room and slowly chuckle “boy, that’s sure a shame.”
Both Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo have been on injured reserve for about a week and a half, suddenly handing the starting job to Jean-Francois Berube and calling up someone named Jet Greaves to serve as the backup. All Berube has done is lead Columbus to three straight wins (combined with one that was credited to Merzlikins, although he left injured before the end of that game).
The four-game streak is the Jackets’ longest of the season, and the last two, at home over Toronto and at Florida last night, were not exactly pushovers. Helping them out is an insane run of offensive fireworks; in their last 11 games, the Jackets have scored at least four goals nine times. Patrik Laine has points in each of those 11 games, tallying 21 over the course of that run.
Now would probably be a bad time to point out that Laine is a point per game player in his career when facing the Hurricanes. (Whoops.)
Here’s how the suddenly red-hot Blue Jackets will take the ice tonight:
Jakub Voracek - Boone Jenner - Patrik Laine
Gus Nyquist - Jack Roslovic - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Max Domi - Sean Kuraly - Yegor Chinakhov
Brendan Gaunce - Cole Sillinger - Justin Danforth
Vladislav Gavrikov - Andrew Peeke
Dean Kukan - Adam Boqvist
Gabriel Carlsson - Gavin Bayreuther
Injuries and Scratches: Zach Werenski (upper body), Emil Bemstrom (healthy), Jake Christiansen (healthy), Elvis Merzlikins (IR lower body), Joonas Korpisalo (IR lower body), Daniil Tarasov (IR hip), Alexandre Texier (IR broken finger), Jake Bean (IR groin), Eric Robinson (IR knee)
Referees: Garrett Rank #7, Corey Syvret #23
Linesmen: C.J. Murray #68, Kyle Flemington #55