– Happy Valentine’s Day from the Twin Cities!
This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information related to tonight’s first meeting of the season between the Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild 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.
The Hurricanes will be on the ice at Xcel Energy Center for a morning skate at 11:30 a.m. Central Time, which will be just after noon on the East Coast. Check back here then for more!Last updated: 2:30 p.m.
QUOTE 'EM: PETERS AND KHUDOBIN2:30 p.m.
Head coach Bill Peters touched on a number of subjects after this morning's skate.On Khudobin getting the start in goal:
"He used to play here and never has a career start against Minneosta. He’ll get one here tonight. He’s been real good for us leading into this game, and I expect him to be good again tonight."On if Khudobin facing the team that drafted him factors into the decision:
"We talk about all those types of things. We have an avalanche of stats and information. We share it all, talk about it with Dave Marcoux and the rest of the staff and come up with a decision."On Ron Hainsey:
"He's good to go. Just a little 24-hour bug. He looks good, feels good and says he's ready to go."On Michal Jordan back up with the Canes:
"We gave him a 13-game run there earlier in the year, and we want to see him again. We expect him to be better the second time around."On the forward lines:
"We put everything back together ... "Nasher comes in in the middle, and we put Nesty on the left side with J-Mac and Patty. We’ll leave those two together to kill penalties, and then Nasher can kill with Gerbs. More of the look that we had a couple weeks ago."On how players can remain in the lineup:
"We need to score more. The way we need to do that is to be physical on offense and get in front of goaltenders. We’ve got to get more of a net-front presence to make it hard on them, and the guys that are doing that will definitely be noticed."
I also had the chance to speak with Anton Khudobin, who will make his first start against the team that drafted him in the seventh round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. Khudobin was 4-1-0 in six career appearances with Minnesota from the 2009-10 season to 2010-11.
"To walk into the rink, I remember my feelings the first time I got here," he said. "It reminds me. It’s good memories."
Khudobin made his NHL debut before getting his first start in the NHL. We'll let him tell the story.
"(Josh) Harding got hurt in the third period with 10 minutes left, and the score was tied 2-2. The guys scored two goals right away. We killed a penalty right after I started, and after that, we won the game."
Khudobin made nine saves in nine-and-a-half minutes to secure his first NHL win. Two nights later, he stopped 38 of 39 shots against Philadelphia in his first start, another win for rookie goaltender.
This isn't the first time this season that Khudobin has had the opportunity to face a former team for the first time. Just over a month ago, the 28-year-old goaltender made 19 saves in regulation and overtime in addition to turning away all three shooters in the shootout to secure a 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins.
"It's the first time for me I'm playing against my former team," Khudobin said after that game. "I have my team right now, and I knew what I had to do."
CANES LINES: MORNING SKATE12:30 p.m.
Here's what you can expect lineup-wise from the Canes tonight.
E. Staal-J. Staal-Tlusty
We'll have more from head coach Bill Peters after the skate.
HURRICANES CHALLENGE RED-HOT WILD6:00 a.m.
Having played just one game at home in the last 15 days, the Carolina Hurricanes are back on the road for a brief, two-game trip that begins tonight with the team’s lone trip to Minnesota.
Carolina’s sole game played in Raleigh in the last half-month fell on Thursday night, a 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. It was a game reminiscent of some of the Canes’ early-season tilts in which they had copious amounts of shots but not a lot to show for it on the scoreboard. Facing the Ducks for the second time in 10 days, the Hurricanes did everything but win the game, essentially.
“We have to find a way to win those games. It’s a night when you’re 57 percent in the circle, plus-1 on the specialty teams, you outshoot your opponent and you start on time,” head coach Bill Peters said. “There are factors why we lost the hockey game, and we addressed those in the meeting.”
The Hurricanes will now meet up with a red-hot Minnesota club that has earned points in nine straight games, dating back to prior to the All-Star break. Included in that nine-game point streak is a six-game winning streak, snapped Tuesday night in Winnipeg in a 2-1 overtime loss.
“I don’t know if you can take them out of their rhythm. You just have to manage the puck properly,” Peters said. “Their transition is real good right now, and they’re puck pressuring in the D-zone. They’re playing real well with lots of confidence.”
The coaching staff might opt to shake up the lines heading into tonight’s game. In practice on Friday, the brothers Staal and Elias Lindholm were featured down the middle on the first three lines, a look with which the Canes could experiment.
“Yeah, that’s something we toyed with,” Peters said. “We’ll see. We’ll consider it and beat it up on the plane to see what we come up with.”
Playing Lindholm down the middle is not something the Canes have looked at in great detail this season, though the young Swedish forward projects as a future center in the NHL.
“He’s going to have to play at center at some point in his career, right? There’s no better time than now,” Peters said, noting that nothing lineup-wise was finalized. “He’s a smart, effective two-way guy. Similar to Victor (Rask), he understands the game and knows how to play away from the puck. He’s responsible defensively, and we need him to take some draws.”
Among other lineup changes, expect to see Riley Nash draw back in, as well.
“He’s going to play tomorrow, for sure,” Peters said. “He’s got to get back to where he was. He was making plays, he was a dangerous guy and he made the players he was with – his wingers – better.”
The Canes recalled defenseman Michal Jordan on Friday afternoon. Ryan Murphy was placed on injured reserve earlier in the week and is expected to miss four weeks with a lower-body injury, while Ron Hainsey missed practice on Friday with flu-like symptoms.
NOTES: Anton Khudobin, a seventh-round draft pick of the Minnesota Wild in 2004, has never faced his former team. … The Canes have won four of the last six games between the two teams, and they’ve earned points in six of the last seven meetings.