At the Rink: Blackhawks at Hurricanes

Tuesday, 01.26.2016 / 2:08 PM | Kurt Dusterberg  - Correspondent

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Mark McNeill will make his NHL debut against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday at PNC Arena (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN1, CSN-CH).

McNeill, selected No. 18 in the 2011 NHL Draft, was recalled from Rockford of the American Hockey League on Monday. He has nine goals and 10 assists in 29 AHL games.

"It's going to be a dream come true," McNeill, 22, said. "It's something you dream about as a kid and that day is finally here. I think it's going to help if I go out there and throw the body around early and get the nerves out of the way."

Though McNeill brings a new face to the locker room, the Blackhawks (33-15-4) will see a pair of familiar faces on the opposing bench. Hurricanes forwards Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom are less than a year removed from winning the Stanley Cup with Chicago. Versteeg, who has been traded from the Blackhawks twice after winning championships, said has a greater appreciation for his ex-teammates now than when he wore the same sweater.

"When you get traded and you look back on teams, you really see how that team was built and how good they are," said Versteeg, who is second on the Hurricanes with 30 points. "You take things for granted I think. When you come back and you see a lineup with those guys' names on the board, you realize how special it was to play there. But you also realize you have to be ready and at your best to beat them."

Chicago forward Patrick Kane knows what Versteeg brings to a team. Along with Brad Richards, they forwards formed a line that was an offensive force for Chicago last season.

"He's a great teammate, great for the locker room," said Kane, who leads the League with 73 points. "I was very close to him the first time he was here and the second time as well. He's one of those guys that brought life to the room. He had a good time playing hockey and he was very good at doing it."

The Hurricanes (22-20-8) defeated the Blackhawks 2-1 on Dec. 27, the Blackhawks' first game back from the Christmas break.

"They're in every single hockey game," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of the Hurricanes. "They play the right way. We saw it coming out of the break. They've got some speed and quickness. They've got some guys who are familiar with us. I'm sure they're excited about playing us."

Here are the projected lineups:


Andrew Shaw - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Artemi Panarin - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane

Andrew Desjardins - Phillip Danault - Teuvo Teravainen

Richard Panik - Dennis Rasmussen - Mark McNeill

Niklas Hjalmarsson - Duncan Keith

Erik Gustafsson - Brent Seabrook

Trevor van Riemsdyk - Rob Scuderi

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Injured: Marcus Kruger (wrist fracture)

Scratched: Jiri Sekac, Michal Rozsival, Brandon Mashinter


Kris Versteeg - Eric Staal - Phillip Di Giuseppe

Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Elias Lindholm

Joakim Nordstrom - Jordan Staal - Andrej Nestrasil

Chris Terry - Jay McClement - Brad Malone

John-Michael Liles - Justin Faulk

Ron Hainsey - Brett Pesce

Noah Hanifin - Jaccob Slavin

Eddie Lack

Daniel Altshuller

Injured: Cam Ward (concussion), James Wisniewski (knee)

Scratched: Michal Jordan, Nathan Gerbe, Riley Nash

Status report: Carolina coach Bill Peters said everyone is a possibility to play against the Blackhawks, but the Hurricanes have several players who are nursing injuries. ...Ward skated for the second straight day. Peters said he believes Ward will be available when the Hurricanes come out of the All-Star break.

Who's hot: Kane has 10 points in his past six games. ... Crawford has won 10 of his past 11 starts. ...Versteeg had two goals in a 5-2 win against the Calgary Flames on Sunday. ... Nordstrom has scored in each of Carolina's past two games.

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