Hurricanes end regular season against Predators
A regular season like no other ends Monday for Hurricane Carolina with a game against the Nashville Predators.
The most pressing concern for the Canes is the status of defenseman Jaccob Slavin, who left Saturday’s game against the Predators with a lower-body injury and has not returned.
Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said after the game he hoped the injury was not serious. He said that Slavin had “changed” something and also said it was “a little alarming”, a choice of words that was a little alarming.
The Canes did not train on Sunday and Slavin could be excluded from Monday’s game. With the Stanley Cup Playoffs not starting until later in the week, Slavin could also have some extra recovery time, if needed.
As Central Division champions, the Canes (36-11-8) will open the playoffs against the Predators (30-23-2), who took fourth place with their 3-1 victory on Saturday. The Canes also have the advantage on the ice.
The Canes, with 80 points, were tied with the Vegas Golden Knights for most points in the NHL until Saturday’s games. The Golden Knights, who beat St. Louis 4-1 on Saturday, have two more NHL Presidents’ Trophy games to play, which would secure an edge on the ice throughout the playoffs.
Not that this is always a decisive advantage. None of the last seven Presidents’ Trophy winners have won the Stanley Cup and only one has reached the conference final. The last team to win the Presidents’ Trophy and then win the Cup was the Chicago Blackhawks in 2012-13.
When the Canes won the Stanley Cup in 2005-06, the Detroit Red Wings won the Presidents’ Trophy. The Canes won the Southeast Division, their last division title before this season, and were the No.2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Then again, the Canes are 20-3-5 at PNC Arena this season, so playing at home is a factor. As division champions, they are assured of the edge on the ice at least in the first two rounds of the playoffs, if they advance.
It won’t be a full hall at PNC Arena, with the parking lots full of heels before the playoffs and noisy once in the building like in 2019. But it could be quite noisy, with the hope of eventually increasing the number of authorized places. capacity – 7,000 would be fine in the first round – for the playoffs.
“Of course you still want to play at home,” Canes forward Jesper Fast said on Saturday. “We had a very good record at home, so of course that’s an advantage for us. This is a good thing.”
The checklist for Monday’s game with the Predators should be short: play hard, stay healthy, win a game, come home.
“Skip the next game and increase it,” Brind’Amour said on Saturday.
Goalkeeper Petr Mrazek could be the starter on Monday, then another conversation can be initiated: Who is the Canes’ No.1 goaltender in the playoffs?
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Nashville Predators
When: Monday, 8 p.m.
Or: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville.
TV: BSSO (Bally)