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Gameday: Hurricanes at Panthers

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - There are worse places for a hockey game in February.

This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information related to tonight's match-up between the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers 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.

After a travel day on Monday, the Hurricanes will be back on the ice in Sunrise for an 11:30 a.m. morning skate, and we'll be rinkside to provide you with the latest, as always.

Last updated: 7:10 p.m.

7:10 p.m.

Jeff Skinner, who was with the team in Florida and skated this morning, will not play tonight due to an upper-body injury. Brock McGinn, who missed Sunday's game with an upper-body injury is ready to draw back into the lineup.

With today's trade of Viktor Stalberg, the Canes remain short a forward, so Matt Tennyson will dress on the fourth line, alongside Jay McClement and Joakim Nordstrom.

Here are the updated forward lines and defensive pairings for tonight's game.

McGinn-Staal-Di Giuseppe



6:00 p.m.

Mike Maniscalco details tonight's Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina three Tools to Victory.

1. Grab a Lead and Build It

Scoring the first goal is always important, and building on it is something the Hurricanes need to do now. There is a huge difference in the NHL having a two-goal lead, and with the system the Hurricanes play, when they are sharp it is tough to come back down multiple goals.

2. A Team Game

 All four forward lines have to contribute and make the Panthers play the match-up game. 

3. Tighten Up in the Middle

The Canes made too many careless passes in the middle of the ice against Calgary. Cutting down on the giveaways and getting into the offensive zone clean are things that have to happen against a Panthers team with several dangerous offensive players.

5:40 p.m.

Viktor Stalberg was slated to be in the Hurricanes' lineup tonight on the fourth line with Jay McClement and Joakim Nordstrom. Early this afternoon, as the Canes' bus was pulling up to the team hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, news broke that Stalberg had been traded to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

What that means for the Hurricanes down the road is that they now have 11 picks in this summer's draft, including seven in the first three rounds alone.

What that means for the Hurricanes more immediately is that they are down a forward for tonight. Brock McGinn skated today after missing Sunday's game with an upper-body injury, but he's not a lock to play tonight, according to head coach Bill Peters.

"We're going to wait and get a report on [him]," Peters said. "If it's positive, he'll come back into the lineup."

If McGinn can't go, the only short-notice option would be to dress seven defensemen. Matt Tennyson was slated to be the healthy extra, so he would figure to draw in.

The puck drops at BB&T Center tonight at 7:30 p.m.

5:30 p.m.

The Internet appears to have be restored, so here's some gameday content we've been sitting on!

Head coach Bill Peters spoke with the media after his team's morning skate at BB&T Center. Here's what was discussed.

On potential lineup changes: "We're going to wait and get a report on Brock McGinn. … If it is positive, he'll come back into the lineup."

On Cam Ward making his 600th career start, all the Hurricanes: "That's unreal. It's good. It's a testament to his longevity and his loyalty to the organization and the organization to him. It's exciting, and it's his birthday. … I know he's excited to start, and we're excited to get a chance to win a game here this evening."

On tonight's opponent: "They've played well. … They've got depth down the middle, their D is active and they do a good job in the O-zone. They wear you out a little bit. They're a team that gets a lot of shots."

On the need for offense: "We need to score more. We've got to get our goaltender some support offensively. We've got to get those goals early in the game. That'd be better than waiting until the end."

On improving the team's road game: "We can be harder on pucks, heavier in the O-zone and spend more time in the O-zone. We seem to have a heavier game at home, and we'd like to be able to transfer that to the road here in the last two months."

On the trade deadline: "We addressed it well in advance. Everyone knows what's going on. It's a tough time of year for everybody. There are guys getting moved all over the league, and it impacts people's lives in a big way. It's an important couple of days here coming down the stretch, and I know it will be in the back of guys' minds. The guys that are real good pros will be able to park it at game time."

11:50 a.m.

It appears Brock McGinn, who missed last game with an upper-body injury, will be back in the lineup tonight. Here's how the team lined up.

McGinn-Staal-Di Giuseppe



It's Cam Ward's birthday, sort of. He's a leap year baby, so there isn't an actual day of birth for him to celebrate this year. He gets the start in net, his 600th start with the Hurricanes.

In case you missed it, Mike Maniscalco and I were live on Facebook during the Canes morning skate. We gave you an inside look at the team's skate while also fielding your questions. You can watch an archived version of the broadcast here.

6:00 a.m.

The Carolina Hurricanes concluded a disappointing five-game homestand on Sunday, posting a 1-3-1 record in their prolonged stay at home coming out of the bye week.

In many ways, it was a must-have stretch of which the team could never really grab ahold.

"For how consistent we've been at home, it's been frustrating these last few. They were big games," Jordan Staal said after the Hurricanes fell 3-1 to the Calgary Flames in the homestand finale. "Consistently we weren't good enough to win NHL hockey games."

A key factor in the Hurricanes' struggle in the standings as of late has been their struggle to score goals with regularity. The Canes were doubled up in goals, 12-6, by their opponents during the homestand, and they've totaled just eight goals over their last seven games.

"I think our whole team has had a hard time being consistent," head coach Bill Peters said after the Canes' loss to Calgary on Sunday. "You look at the Pittsburgh effort and the effort against Ottawa, I don't think they're the same as the effort tonight. I thought our effort was lacking throughout."

Tonight, the Hurricanes hit the road for a back-to-back set in the state of Florida. First up: the Florida Panthers.

"We've just got to bounce back here," Victor Rask said. "I think everyone really wants to win here, so we've just got to figure it out and get the win."

After posting a perfect 5-0 record on a California to St. Louis road swing, the Panthers have lost three straight games at home. The last time these two teams met was on Nov. 27 in Raleigh. After a 3-2 Hurricanes' win, the Panthers fired head coach Gerard Gallant. Tom Rowe, former Canes assistant coach and AHL affiliate head coach, took over behind the bench and has since guided the team to a 17-14-9 record.

From this point forward, the Hurricanes will play at an at least every-other-day pace until April 9. In March, the Hurricanes play 17 games over 30 days.

"There's a certain rhythm that you're going to get in to, whether you want to or not. That's just the reality of it," Peters said before Sunday's game. "Realistically, I think everyone in the league would tell you they'd want a little bit more time off in between games with the amount of travel and everything else, just for the caliber of the play and health of the players."

Peters and his staff have a plan in place to manage their time. Monday's scheduled practice was canceled in favor of a morning skate on Tuesday.

"They're going to be important coming off days off," Peters said of morning skates. "If you want to be able to skate at night, you've got to be able to skate in the morning."

CANESPR NOTES: The Hurricanes are 10-5-2 against the Atlantic Division this season. … Cam Ward is one start shy of 600 NHL games started.




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