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Back to work everyone!
If it seems as though it’s been more than a weeks since you’ve been frustrated that the Carolina Hurricanes haven’t taken advantage of a great first period, it’s only because it’s true. The Canes have been off since last Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Jets as the league took a break for the All Stars to show off followed by the CBA-mandated winter vacation. While, I’m fairly certain that most of the players didn’t do Disney World, some may have spent time on a beach or a boat or a golf course.
As long as they took advantage of those great resort gyms, head coach Rod Brind’Amour is cool with it. So, here’s a look at what we can expect when the Canes and Golden Knights square off for the first of two meetings this season.
This will be the 5th all time meeting between these two franchises with each side winning twice. Last year, each won at home with the Canes coming out of the off-week with a 5-2 win over Vegas at PNC Arena. In that contest, Petr Mrazek made 23 saves, Nino Niederreiter, Sebastian Aho and Jordan Martinook scored goals and Justin Williams recorded a pair of assists.
Take me to your leaders…
Points: Teuvo Teravainen, 48; Andrei Svechnikov, 45; Sebastian Aho, 42.
Goals: Aho, 24; Svechnikov, 19; Dougie Hamilton, 14.
Power play points: Teravainen, 18; Svechnikov, 15, Hamilton, 12.
Hot: Teravainen, 2 goals, 7 points (+5 rating) in his last 6 games.
Not: Erik Haula/Ryan Dzingel, 0 goals in last 9 games.
Points: Max Pacioretty, 47; Mark Stone, 46; Reilly Smith, 39.
Goals: Pacioretty, 21; Smith, 20; Stone, 18.
Power play points: Pacioretty, 14; Stone, 12; Shea Theodore, 11.
Hot: Paul Statsny, 5 goals, 10 points (+5 rating) in his last 11 games.
Not: William Karlsson/Cody Eakin, 0 goals last 10 games.
The Hurricanes and Toronto each have 61 points, tied for the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Canes do have one game in hand on the Leafs, as they do over the Blue Jackets who are one point in front of Carolina in the standings. In all, the Islanders, Florida, Columbus, Toronto, Philadelphia and the Canes are separated by just three points in the playoff race. Those six teams are essentially fighting for four available spots, barring a collapse from one of the conference’s top four (Washington, Pittsburgh, Boston and Tampa Bay).
Vegas is 5th in the Pacific Division, second in the Western Conference Wild Card race, but that division is going to be manic the rest of the season. The top five (Vancouver, Sunday’s opponent at PNC Arena, currently leads with 62 points) are within 5 points of each other with about 10 weeks to play.
It’s been a weird year for the Golden Knights. Two years after reaching the Stanley Cup Finals as an expansion team they fired head coach Gerard Gallant. His replacement, Peter DeBoer, was fired five weeks earlier by the San Jose Sharks. This is DeBoer’s fourth NHL head coaching stop, having been behind the benches of the Panthers, Devils and San Jose. In his last two gigs he led those teams to the Stanley Cup Finals in his first year on the job. DeBoer got his coaching start for the Peter Karmanos-owned Detroit/Plymouth Whalers in the mid-1990s.
Vegas is 1-1-1 since DeBoer assumed the job.
These two teams will close out the season series next Saturday, February 8, in Las Vegas. Storm Watch with Alec Campbell starts at 7:00 on 99.9 the Fan. Opening face off scheduled for 7:08 pm ET.