Carolina Hurricanes: Look to build momentum with win against Red Wings

RALEIGH, NC - NOVEMBER 10: Carolina Hurricanes center Lucas Wallmark (71) and Detroit Red Wings left wing Justin Abdelkader (8) during the 2nd period of the Carolina Hurricanes game versus the Detroit Red Wings on November 10, 2018 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. (Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NC - NOVEMBER 10: Carolina Hurricanes center Lucas Wallmark (71) and Detroit Red Wings left wing Justin Abdelkader (8) during the 2nd period of the Carolina Hurricanes game versus the Detroit Red Wings on November 10, 2018 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. (Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Carolina Hurricanes are back in action tonight, looking to continue to rack up points during their five game homestand with a win over the Detroit Red Wings.

The Carolina Hurricanes are not where they want to be as we barrel headfirst towards Christmas, which is only five days away. FIVE. If you haven’t finished your holiday shopping, you only have four days to shop! Stop procrastinating and go do it. Seriously. Well maybe right after this article. As the Canes have been practicing in their festive green Whalers gear matched with their usual Carolina gear, a lot of emphasis has been placed on two things: the powerplay, and shootouts. Basically offense.

This is critical for the team that has the least amount of goals in their division. It’s no secret that the offense has been quiet since the first few games of the season. Clark Bishop will be the only Charlotte Checkers player re-joining the roster after being sent down for a single Checkers game along with Scott Darling and Janne Kuokkanen. This means that Curtis McElhinney and either Michael Ferland or Jordan Staal (or both) are healthy and ready for action. Martin Necas is off the board as a possible call up since he was loaned to the Czech junior team to compete in his third World Junior Hockey Championship, which ends on January 5th.

Until after the holidays, the NHL’s holiday freeze pretty much guarantees that outside veteran help will not be coming. That is, unless the Carolina Hurricanes claim Patrik Berglund off waivers from Buffalo.

I am not sure if the Carolina Hurricanes are ready for the kind of drama a player who can walk away from $12 million could possibly bring, but that sort of addition could be what this team needs. He is definitely an upgrade on Clark Bishop or even Victor Rask, and would give this team a real depth at center even with his streaky on/off tendencies.

Detroit comes into this game fully embracing their tank, losing five out of their last six games and only picking up eight points in their last ten games. That said, the Carolina Hurricanes haven’t been much better, having also had similar amount of points in the same number of games. Both teams are also sitting on 33 points this season. Jimmy Howard was the only reason Detroit got as far as it did. Luckily for Carolina, Jonathan Bernier is expected to start in net for the Red Wings as Howard is still dealing with back pain that kept him out of the game against the Flyers.

Expect Petr Mrazek to be between the pipes against his old team. After shutting out the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday, the former Detroit netminder definitely deserves another outing, even with Curtis McElhinney seemingly back and healthy. His last game against the Red Wings ended with only 1 goal against, and a 0.952% save percentage. This would also allow McElhinney the extra time needed to get 100% for the first of a critical home back-to-back against the Penguins and Bruins.

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I expect Micheal Ferland to be the player to return to the lineup instead of Jordan Staal, who has been on IR since Dec 5th (retroactively). He was a full participant in the team’s practice on Wednesday. The question remains on where Coach Rod Brind’Amour will place him on the roster. His last start, which saw him leave the game early after he told staff that he didn’t feel right, saw him start on the third line with Clark Bishop and Brock McGinn. Hopefully he feels well enough to re-join Sebastian Aho on the top line, where he dominated for the first part of the season. Carolina is getting healthier, while Detroit is missing Howard, the sole reason they have any wins at all.

Prediction: Carolina 4 -1 Red Wings