It’s been four days since the Carolina Hurricanes took the ice for a playoff game. In the postseason, that’s an eternity, and it’s entirely possible that the Hurricanes could have a bit of rust to shake off tonight as they host the New York Rangers in the first game of their second round series.
However, the flip side of that is that there are always injuries to heal up in the playoffs, and having three days off gives those nagging knocks a chance to resolve themselves. As a result, the Hurricanes are as healthy as they can be entering tonight’s matchup.
Unsurprisingly, Rod Brind’Amour isn’t messing with a winning formula, and the squad that takes the ice tonight at PNC Arena will look very similar to the one that clinched a Game 7 win last weekend. That means no Jordan Martinook or Freddie Andersen, and this lineup (including a newly-announced Lady Byng finalist) skating out tonight:
Andrei Svechnikov - Sebastian Aho - Seth Jarvis
Max Domi - Vincent Trocheck - Teuvo Teravainen
Nino Niederreiter - Jordan Staal - Jesper Fast
Steven Lorentz - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Martin Necas
Jaccob Slavin - Tony DeAngelo
Brady Skjei - Brett Pesce
Brendan Smith - Ian Cole
Injuries and Scratches: Frederik Andersen (lower body), Jordan Martinook (lower body), Ethan Bear (healthy), Derek Stepan (healthy)
Let’s get this out of the way first: there are going to be a lot of Rangers fans at the game tonight. The Triangle is too much of a newcomers’ market for there not to be. Yes, some of them will be annoying. It’s the way of the world when these two teams play (or when the Penguins or Bruins are in town). No sense lamenting it.
OK, now that we have that out of the way, let’s hope all those fans go home dejected.
The Rangers only have one player from their starting lineup on the shelf to begin this series. Barclay Goodrow suffered a lower body injury in Game 1 against the Penguins and is likely to return at some point during this series, although it won’t happen tonight. Other than him, the Rangers are at full strength, and you can expect that the Staal line will be fed a healthy diet of the Rangers’ top trio, featuring one of the great Canes-killers of all time.
Here’s how they will look:
Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Frank Vatrano
Artemi Panarin - Ryan Strome - Andrew Copp
Alexis Lafreniere - Filip Chytil - Kaapo Kakko
Tyler Motte - Kevin Rooney - Ryan Reaves
Ryan Lindgren - Adam Fox
K’Andre Miller - Jacob Trouba
Justin Braun - Braden Schneider
Injuries and Scratches: Barclay Goodrow (lower body), Patrik Nemeth, Greg McKegg, Julien Gauthier, Libor Hajek, Dryden Hunt, Jonny Brodzinski (all healthy)
Referees: Dan O’Rourke #9, Frederick L’Ecuyer #17 (Standby: Jon McIsaac #2)
Linesmen: Kiel Murchison #79, Mark Shewchyk #92