The Carolina Hurricanes will return home this evening to play their first game at PNC Arena in 2024. The Canes will host Western Conference opponent, the St. Louis Blues. Looking to stay perfect in the new year, Carolina will be playing the second leg of a back-to-back.
At PNC Arena, the Canes have been very good with a 10-3-3 record. They will be looking to earn their sixth straight victory against the Blues. St. Louis has struggled on the road with a 7-11-1 record away from home. The Blues surprised the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday, beating the Pacific Division leaders by a score of 2-1. They have played their last 4 out of 5 games at home.
The visitor this evening has a 19-17-1 record after 37 games played this season. Sitting sixth in the Central Division, they are just 2 points behind the last Wild Card holder.
Playing a spiritless style of hockey, the Blues fired coach, Craig Berube, in the middle of December. Drew Bannister was appointed the coach on an interim basis. Still holding the position, the Blues have played better lately but time will tell if Bannister is the long-term answer behind the bench.
Their 2017 first-round draft pick, Robert Thomas, has continued to develop well with a solid first half of the season. Thomas leads the team in points with 16 goals and 25 assists. He will be representing the Blues in Toronto for the All-Star game.
Pavel Buchnevich and Jake Neighbours have helped in the scoring department behind Thomas. Both Buchnevich and Neighbours have 12 goals each. Buchnevich is second on the team in scoring with 29 points. Jordan Kyrou has also had a nice season with 27 points, sliding behind Thomas in the depth chart. Kevin Hayes has 9 goals but has not made a big impact yet as a newcomer.
A familiar face on defense, Justin Faulk, leads the blue line with 17 points. Like the Canes, the Blues defensemen are very active in the offense. Former Boston Bruins defenseman, Torey Krug also has 17 points. The real goal threat on defense is Colton Parayko with 7 goals.
In goal, the main starter is still Jordan Binnington. Binnington remains a mediocre goaltender and makes more of a name for himself causing scuffles with his short temper. This season he has an average 3.14 GAA with a .902 save percentage. Getting a net presence in front of him may get him off his game.
The Canes will look to strike early while the legs are still fresh but expect Rod Brind'Amour to roll four lines and lean on the depth lines to keep the team as fresh as they can late in the game. I would also expect Antti Raanta to return to the crease for the Canes.
Note it is an 8 P.M. start this evening.