Last year they were division rivals, but this year the Blackhawks make their one trip to Raleigh tonight.
The pandemic-necessitated realignment in the 2020-21 NHL season resulted in the Carolina Hurricanes and Chicago Blackhawks sharing a division for the first time. That meant we got a steady dose of seeing the Hawks, a team the Hurricanes have owned in recent years. This year, the Blackhawks might be at their nadir, and unfortunately the Hurricanes only have two chances rather than eight to pile up points against one of the league’s cellar dwellers.
- Obviously the game tonight, at least from an outside perspective, is a distant second in importance to the bombshells rocking the NHL in the past week relating to the Blackhawks’ cover-up of Kyle Beach’s sexual abuse allegations from the 2010 playoff run. It’s cost Chicago GM Stan Bowman and Florida coach Joel Quenneville their jobs, with the NHL imposing what amounts to a show-cause penalty on each, and Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff (a Chicago assistant GM at the time) is in hot water himself.
- The turmoil in the executive suite in Chicago has resulted in a temporary reprieve for beleaguered coach Jeremy Colliton, who has presided over the worst start to a Blackhawks season in many years and was on the hot seat himself until Bowman was forced out. Now, with an interim GM in place, Colliton seems to have a bit more job security, although that could change at a moment’s notice. Winning a hockey game would certainly go a long way in that regard.
- Just how much have the Hurricanes enjoyed seeing the Blackhawks on the schedule recently? Their record against Chicago in the past 18 games, which goes back to the 2014-15 season, is 13-3-2; by winning percentage, the best against any opponent that they’ve played at least ten times in that stretch.
- Despite the Blackhawks’ ineptitude, Marc-Andre Fleury has owned the Hurricanes himself over the past few years. Since the start of the 2015-16 season, Fleury is 5-0-3 against Carolina, with his last regulation loss coming in March of 2015. So of course he is not playing tonight, because why would they want to, you know, try to win a game against a team one of the goalies has dominated recently? Instead, Kevin Lankinen gets the call tonight.
- The Blackhawks will also be without four players in the Covid protocol, including Patrick Kane and familiar face Riley Stillman.
- Thanks in part to the regular diet of Blackhawks matchups last season, three Hurricanes have more goals against Chicago than any other opponent: Nino Niederreiter (14), Andrei Svechnikov (9) and Martin Necas (5) have all lit the lamp against the Blackhawks regularly. Niederreiter has 28 points all-time against the Blackhawks, also his most against any opponent.
- Tonight is the first time the Hurricanes will play on a back-to-back. Last year, they were money in these situations, going 12-4-2 in their nine back-to-back sets including a 7-2-0 record in the back half.
- Will we see Seth Jarvis tonight? We’ll find out at 4:45 and will update accordingly. For now, we’ll stick with how the game ended last night, because if we know one thing about Rod Brind’Amour in his fourth season behind the bench, he’s not one to regularly mess with a good thing, and the Hurricanes certainly have that going on at the moment.
***UPDATE 4:56 p.m.: It looks like it will be Antti Raanta’s night in net, as he’s set to make his Carolina debut***
Rod Brind’Amour shares that Antti Raanta will make his #Canes regular season debut tonight, starting against the Blackhawks.
The 32-year-old Finn began his NHL career with Chicago during the 2013-14 season.
— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) October 29, 2021
Andrei Svechnikov – Sebastian Aho – Teuvo Teravainen
Jesperi Kotkaniemi – Vincent Trocheck – Martin Necas
Nino Niederreiter – Jordan Staal – Jesper Fast
Steven Lorentz – Derek Stepan – Jordan Martinook
Jaccob Slavin – Ethan Bear
Brady Skjei – Brett Pesce
Ian Cole – Tony DeAngelo
Tyler Johnson – Kirby Dach – Dominik Kubalik
Alex DeBrincat – Philipp Kurashev – Mike Hardman
Brandon Hagel – Jonathan Toews – Ryan Carpenter
Adam Gaudette – MacKenzie Entwistle – Reese Johnson
Calvin de Haan – Seth Jones
Jake McCabe – Connor Murphy
Erik Gustafsson – Isaak Phillips (NHL debut)