So, have you heard the news? The one about the big offseason acquisition making his first appearance at PNC Arena tonight with his new team? You’d have to think he’ll get a roaring ovation, right? I mean, capacity crowd, beloved player, you can’t go wrong with this.
But enough about Nino Niederreiter.
There’s theoretically some question about whether Max Pacioretty will make his debut tonight with the Hurricanes, although realistically, if he wasn’t ready to go, they wouldn’t have removed him from LTIR (and thus add his salary back to the cap) yesterday. Truth be told, it’s probably telling that they reactivated Pacioretty yesterday and not today, because as we saw a couple weeks ago when Jack Drury was assigned to Chicago to save some pocket change against the cap on off days, every penny counts.
If he wasn’t ready to play tonight, why charge an extra day against the cap for him to be a scratch?
Of course, with that in mind, where he goes into the lineup is another question entirely. With no morning skate today, the Hurricanes are leaving us all guessing until the warmup. Stefan Noesen, who left Tuesday’s loss to the Rangers after suffering a lower body injury, will not play tonight, and it could be that Pacioretty simply slides in on the fourth line in his place. But stay tuned; Rod Brind’Amour has hinted that Pacioretty may be all over the lineup.
Here’s how, we think, the Hurricanes will line up tonight:
Teuvo Teravainen - Sebastian Aho - Seth Jarvis
Andrei Svechnikov - Paul Stastny - Martin Necas
Jordan Martinook - Jordan Staal - Jesper Fast
Max Pacioretty - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Derek Stepan
Jaccob Slavin - Brent Burns
Brady Skjei - Brett Pesce
Calvin de Haan - Jalen Chatfield
Injuries and Scratches: Stefan Noesen (lower body), Ondrej Kase (LTIR concussion), Frederik Andersen (IR lower body), Dylan Coghlan (healthy)
Yes, indeed, tonight is Nino Niederreiter’s first trip to Raleigh as a member of the Nashville Predators since he signed a two-year deal with them in July. He’s played every game so far this season, and is second on the team with 12 goals, two behind team leader Filip Forsberg, and Nino had the team lead to himself before Forsberg went off for a hat trick on New Year’s Eve.
Niederreiter has been a bright spot in what’s been an overall disappointing season for the Predators. It hasn’t been especially bad, although they’re in sixth place in a relatively weak division. They don’t have a winning streak of more than three games, or a streak of more than two games where they didn’t earn at least a point. They’re just kind of....there.
And here’s how they’ll be...here, tonight:
Filip Forsberg - Juuso Parssinen - Colton Sissons
Mark Jankowski - Ryan Johansen - Matt Duchene
Nino Niederreiter - Cody Glass - Mikael Granlund
Yakov Trenin - Thomas Novak - Tanner Jeannot
Ryan McDonagh - Roman Josi
Mattias Ekholm - Alexandre Carrier
Jeremy Lauzon - The Man, The Myth, The Legend, Prince Pretty himself (© Matt Somma), Roland McKeown
Injuries and Scratches: Cole Smith (upper body), Michael McCarron (NHL/NHLPA PAP), Dante Fabbro (healthy), Mark Borowiecki (LTIR upper body)
Referees: Gord Dwyer #19, Corey Syvret #23
Linesmen: Kilian McNamara #93, Julien Fournier #56