Carolina Hurricanes Preview: vs Vancouver Canucks

Carolina Hurricanes (11-11-6) vs Vancouver Canucks (12-15-2)

The Carolina Hurricanes return home tonight to host the Vancouver Canucks. The Hurricanes are coming off a three-game swing through California that saw them net a total of 3 points out of the three games. With a record of 11-11-6 in a competitive Metropolitan Division, they sit near the bottom of the standings. After a very poor start, the Canes have done a good job of getting back to .500 and hovering right around there.

If the Hurricanes want to make a run at the post season they need to start putting together wins. These next two weeks are the perfect time to do just that.  The Canes will play nine games to close out December and six of those will be at home. Currently holding a six-game win streak on home ice, should signal good things ahead for the boys in red.

The Canes look for revenge in their first game back. Blowing a 3 goal lead earlier in the season against the Vancouver Canucks left a bad taste in their mouth and gives Carolina some extra motivation. The Hurricanes look to not only exact revenge but to make up ground in their division.

Who’s Hot

With injuries to Jordan Staal and Elias Lindholm, the Hurricanes called up several Charlotte Checkers players to fill in. Derek Ryan is one of those call-ups and has made the most of his time with the big club. Ryan has 8 points in his fifteen games with the Hurricanes, 5 of those points coming over his last five games. Ryan has also helped inject some life into the Canes power play.

Since his call-up, the Hurricanes have converted 21.4 percent of their power play opportunities. Before Ryan was called up, the Canes power play was scoring at a rate of 20 percent, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. In the two weeks prior to Derek Ryan joining the team, the Canes power play only converted on 6.7 percent of their power plays. This means that before his call up, the Hurricanes power play had really cooled off. Ryan is not blowing the league away by any

means, but he has provided a much-needed spark to the power play. Look for him to continue taking advantage of his call-up.

The Hurricanes penalty kill has been outstanding this year. Currently, they are killing off 92.1 percent of all penalties. This likely won’t hold up the rest of the season, but if it did, it would be the highest penalty kill efficiency in the history of the league. The key to the penalty kill’s success is the ability of the penalty killers to stand the opposing team up on the blue line. The Canes have only given up 6 goals while shorthanded this year which is remarkable. However, what is even more impressive is the 4 shorthanded goals the Canes have scored. Look for the penalty kill to keep playing at a high level, especially on home ice.

Who’s Not

Jeff Skinner came out of the gates on fire for the Canes, scoring 11 points in his first seven games, and consistently putting points up over the course of November. Skinner has cooled off as of late with only 3 points over his last six games. He has not been playing bad but for a pure goal scorer like himself, he has been invisible on the score sheet. Even as Skinner has cooled off recently, he still boasts 22 points in 27 games this season.

With Skinner being named one of the assistant captains this year, he is more driven and dedicated. I do not expect this current slump to drag on with the Canes having a majority of their next ten games being at home. Watch for Skinner to bust out with a couple of brilliant games in front of Canes fans starting with Tuesday night against the Canucks.

Storylines

Canes get some great news before the game with Jordan Staal and Elias Lindholm’s confirmed prescence in the lineup tonight.  This was the likely outcome of Phil DiGuiseppe‘s return to the AHL, and both players will bring a boost to the depleted Canes team.

There was an incident that went unnoticed by the leagues player safety department in the first meeting between these two teams. Vancouver forward Jake Virtanen hit Joakim Nordstrom several feet from the boards. As Nordstrom was sliding into the boards, Virtanen pushed Nordstrom’s head into the boards in a vicious manner. Luckily Nordstrom was not hurt on the play, but it went unpunished by the league. Virtanen is currently with Vancouver’s AHL affiliate, but the Canes could feel the need to send a message. The Hurricanes are not usually a chippy team, but that could be a story line to watch on Tuesday night.

How to Watch

PNC Arena: Puck Drop at 7:00 pm ET

Watch: Fox Sports Carolinas / Fox Sports Go app

Listen: 99.9 FM The Fan / WRALsportsfan.com

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