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Preview: Islanders vs. Hurricanes

Williams likely to make his 2019-20 season debut

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

The Carolina Hurricanes are expected to add a veteran piece to their lineup when they host the New York Islanders on Sunday evening.

Justin Williams is likely to make his 2019-20 season debut a week-and-a-half after signing a one-year deal with the Canes, who are coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night.

Just-in Time

"Am I ready?" Williams smiled as he repeated the first question of his scrum following practice on Saturday at Raleigh Center Ice. "I'm ready. I'm ready to rock."

Career game No. 1,245 for Williams is likely happening Sunday when the Canes host the Islanders.

"Hopefully he brings a lot of energy to our group, which we probably need right about now," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "I want him to get comfortable and up to speed. That's going to take a little bit of time."

Williams is projected to play on the Canes' fourth line with Lucas Wallmark and Brock McGinn. Jordan Martinook figures to be the odd forward out, at least for Sunday.

"It's certainly not going to be one guy all the time," Brind'Amour said. "It will be a rotation if we're healthy."

Limit the Valleys

In an 82-game schedule, there are bound to be ups and downs. The Hurricanes find themselves in one of those lulls right now, having gone winless in three consecutive games (0-2-1). This, after winning three straight to close out a season-long, seven-game homestand.

"That's the NHL, right?" Williams mused. "If you can limit the valleys you're in, you'll be better off."

Williams' return will ideally give the Canes a much-needed emotional jolt, especially following the news of losing All-Star defenseman Dougie Hamilton (fractured fibula in left leg) for an indefinite amount of time.

"Hopefully [Williams] brings a lot of energy to our group, which we probably need right about now," Brind'Amour said. "I want him to get comfortable and up to speed."

The Last Meeting

The Hurricanes got off to their best start in franchise history (5-0-0) with a 5-2 win over the Islanders on Oct. 11. Andrei Svechnikov and Hamilton each recorded a goal and an assist in the Canes' record-setting win, while Julien Gauthier made his NHL debut.

"I just like the way the guys are coming to work every day," Brind'Amour said after the win. "The 5-0 is kind of irrelevant. We're trying to win the day. That's the mentality these guys have had."

Video: Canes top Isles to notch best start in team history

The Opposition

A lot of hockey has been played since that meeting over three months ago. With a 28-15-4 record and 60 points, the Islanders occupy third place in the Metropolitan Division. They've slipped a bit recently, though, with a 1-3-1 record in their last five games. In a Saturday matinee, the Isles brought a 4-1 lead into the third period against Washington, only to see the Capitals score five goals and win the game, 6-4, in regulation.

"We know them well. They don't give you much," Brind'Amour said of the opposition. "They just kind of wait for their chances and put the heat on you. They're very successful with it."




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