The Carolina Hurricanes picked up their first win after the All-Star break on Thursday night in wild fashion over the Colorado Avalanche, and now they’ll entertain the New Jersey Devils in a big Metropolitan Division showdown.
After Carolina beat the Devils in five games last year in the second round, both teams entered this season with high expectations but scuffled out of the gate.
The Hurricanes of course recovered from their early-season rut, while the Devils have remained stuck in their own all season.
Every time New Jersey seems to have found a turning-point, they’ve been knocked back down a peg. They picked up an emotional, come-from-behind overtime win at home against reigning Cup champ Vegas in their third to last game before the break, but the Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning handed them consecutive losses to send them into the break on a bad note.
They came out of the break and beat Colorado on home ice, only to welcome the Calgary Flames and lose 5-3.
The two culprits for New Jersey this season have been injuries and poor goaltending. Superstar center Jack Hughes returned for Thursday’s loss, and his continued health will be a huge key for the Devils down the stretch.
Former Hurricane Dougie Hamilton has seen his injury woes continue, and he is currently sidelined with a torn pectoral muscle.
In goal, Vitek Vanecek has appeared in 31 games and gone 17-9-2, but his .887 save percentage is the lowest on the team. Though Akira Schmid (15 appearances, .893) and Nico Daws (8 appearances, .895) have not been any better.
Special teams have not been a big issue, as the Devils are middle-of-the-pack on the penalty kill and 8th in the NHL on the power play.
The Devils are at their best when their one-two punch down the middle of Hughes and Nico Hischer is clicking. New Jersey also has some dangerous wingers with Tyler Toffoli, Jesper Bratt, Dawson Mercer, and Alexander Holtz.
If the slumping Timo Meier can find a way to turn his game around, the Devils could begin to look like last year’s surprising juggernaut in a hurry. It may not matter, though, if the goaltending situation continues to hold the team back.
While the Devils got their game breaker back last game, the Hurricanes appear set to get one of their own back tonight.
According to team reporter Walt Ruff, Andrei Svechnikov is in a regular jersey and skating with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen at the morning skate.
He also reports that Pyotr Kochetkov is in the starter’s crease with Spencer Martin working on the other end, meaning that Antti Raanta is likely an extra after suffering a lower-body injury on Thursday.
It’s also Whalers night, as the Hurricanes will be donning white Hartford Whaler throwbacks for the first time since the team began re-incorporating the Hartford branding back in 2018.
- Time: 7:00 PM ET
- Location: PNC Arena, Raleigh, NC
- TV: Bally Sports South with Mike Maniscalco, play-by-play; Tripp Tracy, color analyst; Hanna Yates, in-game reporter; Shane Willis, analyst.
- Radio: 99.9 The Fan
- Line: ML: CAR -162; PL: CAR -1.5 +142