This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information related to tonight’s New Year’s Eve soirée featuring the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes in one handy location. Make this a regular stop throughout the day, as we update it with notes, photos and more as puck drop draws near.
Because of the earlier-than-usual 6 p.m. faceoff, the Hurricanes will be on the ice for an earlier-than-usual 9:30 a.m. morning skate, and we’ll bring you rinkside updates as always. Until then, check out a preview of tonight’s game below.Last updated: 1:30 p.m.
Games one through 299 seem to have flown by in the blink of an eye, but it's true: Justin Faulk will play in his 300th career NHL game tonight when the Hurricanes face off with the Capitals.
The 23-year-old defenseman, who has already represented his country internationally in various tournaments, including the Olympics, and has represented his team at the All-Star game, is in his fifth professional season.
"I knew it was kind of close," he said after the morning skate. "I’ve been lucky enough to play 300 already, even just in general to play 300 games in this league. Maybe one day I can catch up to the old fart J-Mac over there."
Just 500 games to go, I pointed out.
"That’s a long ways," Faulk responded.
Indeed. But he certainly seems primed to get there and beyond.
From the start of the 2012-13 shortened season to today, Faulk has missed just 10 games. He was one of just two Hurricanes to skate in all 82 games last season and has played in all 37 so far this year.
"I’ve been lucky enough the past couple of years to be in the lineup most of the time. You’re playing 80 a year, and it adds up pretty quick," he said. "No one wants to get hurt, and you want to be able to play as many games as you possibly can."
Playing in his 300th game is just the latest milestone in what has already been a record-setting year for the American defenseman. He currently leads the team with 30 points (14g, 16a), and of his 14 goals, the first 12 were scored on the power play, a first in NHL history. He's already tied the franchise record for power-play goals by a defenseman in a single season, and he's gunning for the NHL record of 19 set by Sheldon Souray in 2006-07.
"Any sort of milestone you can have in any league is big," Faulk said. "Especially playing in this league because you don’t know how long it’s going to last and you don’t want to take it for granted."
As we were wrapping up our chat, Faulk was surrounded by Noah Hanifin, Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin in the locker room, whose combined games played totals equal what Faulk logged last season alone. Comparatively, he's somewhat of a veteran.
"Yeah, I know. Too many young guys next to me," he joked. He then motioned to Hanifin. "Especially this one right here.”
"He hates me, though," Faulk ribbed. "I love him, but he hates me.”
Or maybe he is still one of the kids.
PETERS PREGAME11:20 a.m.
As per usual, head coach Bill Peters spoke with the media after the Canes' morning skate. Here's some of what he had to say.On tonight's opponent:
"That's a good team. Nine [wins] in a row. No obvious weakness that jumps out at you that you can exploit. Real good individual players, and they play a good team game. You've got to be on top of your game if you're going to beat them."On responding after a tough luck loss in New Jersey on Tuesday:
"We flush that and move on. We know what happened and why it happened. We've got to continue to move forward. I like the way we played. I thought we had the puck a lot in the second half of the game, and that seems to be a trend for us right now. ... It's trending the right way offensively."On puck possession:
"Just an emphasis as a coaching staff and as a group of holding onto pucks. Instead of chipping pucks or dumping them in, if there's a better play to be made, making sure we're moving our feet and taking advantage of any room there is."On Eddie Lack's recent play:
"I think he's settled in. He's worked very hard in his time here. ... We want him to play big. He's a big man. We don't want him to be deep, but he's got to be at a depth that he's comfortable and he can make saves. He's a young guy as far as NHL experience goes, and he's going to get better and better as we go."On if Peters has given a message to Lack to help him mentally:
"They have their little process, the goalie union. I stay out of it. I give them my two cents, they scoff at me and I walk away. That's the way it works. I don't have the union card, so I don't have any credibility or street cred with the goalies. I give them my two cents, I tell them what I want and they find a way to make it work." What do you tell them?
"Keep it out of the net." But you're the one who can pull them out of the game.
"At any time. That's what I tell my kids, too."
CANES LINES: MORNING SKATE9:30 a.m.
Based on how the Canes lined up at this morning's early skate, there won't be any changes to the forward lines. They'll shuffle up the defensive pairings to go with the same look we saw in Chicago.
We'll have updates from inside the room in just a bit.
CANES FACE REMATCH WITH CAPS TO CLOSE 20156:00 a.m.
The Carolina Hurricanes will draw the curtain on 2015 as they host the Washington Capitals for the second time in 11 days.
The Capitals, who came into the Dec. 21 meeting as one of the hottest teams in the NHL, have remained as such. They’ve posted a 9-1-0 record in their last 10 games and sit comfortably atop the Eastern Conference with 58 points. The Caps were in action on Wednesday night, as they scored four goals in the third period en route to topping the Buffalo Sabres 5-2 for their ninth consecutive victory.
If the Hurricanes can exploit anything in the Caps’ seemingly impenetrable armor at the moment, it’s setting the tone early against a team that played 23 hours earlier.
“We’ve got to bear down and jump on teams when the situation calls for it,” head coach Bill Peters said after a limited skate on Wednesday. “They play tonight, so our start is important tomorrow and then the ability to sustain a quality start.”
The Hurricanes are 7-5-1 in the month of December and fell just short of the Caps last week, losing 2-1.
“They’re a real good team. We’ve played them twice and come up on the short end both times,” Peters said. “We’ve got to find a way to get in the win column tomorrow, and it’s going to take everybody playing the right way.”
Eddie Lack will get the nod in net for Carolina, his second career appearance against Washington. Lack backstopped the team to a 2-1 victory in Chicago on Sunday night, turning away 35 of 36 shots in what was his sharpest performance as a Hurricane yet.
Some nicks and dings could potentially force some lineup changes for the Hurricanes. After not practicing Monday, Elias Lindholm was a question mark heading into Tuesday’s contest in New Jersey but did ultimately play. John-Michael Liles missed much of Tuesday’s third period, as he was being evaluated for a lower-body injury, but he did play in the last five minutes of the game. Neither player took part in the Canes’ optional Wednesday practice.
“It was a little bit of a maintenance day for some guys here today, so we’ll find out in the morning,” Peters said of his team’s bill of health. “We’ll skate as a team, get through that and then we’ll know who’s able to go.”CANESPR NOTES:
Justin Faulk will skate in his 300th career game tonight. He leads the team in scoring this season with 30 points (14g, 16) in 37 games. … The Hurricanes are 5-8-0 in New Year’s Eve games since the start of the 1997-98 season.
is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.Email