In their final game of the 2013 season, the Carolina Hurricanes will play the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at 7:30 ET.
The Hurricanes will have a disheveled lineup in tonight’s game with at least Alexander Semin and Jay Harrison not playing. Tim Gleason and Tuomo Ruutu may have also missed the game, but with the Charlotte Checkers playing tonight in the second game of their playoff series, the Canes have not made any call-ups.
On offense, Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty will look to continue their strong play. Tlusty scored twice against the New York Rangers in the last game, while Staal has five points in his last four games. Coach Kirk Muller will most likely keep Jeff Skinner in his third line center position to continue the late-season experiment.
Dan Ellis was in goal for the Rangers game, but Justin Peters may get the call for this game. Ellis has started the last three games for the Canes, so Muller may want to give Peters his last shot before the season ends.
The game won’t make that big of a difference for the Penguins. They’ve already locked up first place in the East and are thinking more about playoffs rather than the Hurricanes. Because of this, players like Evgeni Malkin, Jarome Iginla and James Neal could sit out tonight, while Tomas Vokoun gets the start to give the star players a rest.
The Hurricanes have been playing well of late and continuing the strong play into the last game of the season will only build confidence going into the offseason. It may not be a huge factor, but it would be better for the team to end on a high note rather than losing its last two.