The game is technically a preseason home game for the Hurricanes, but one would not know it from the location. The Hurricanes will take to the ice at 9pm Eastern Time in a rematch against the Edmonton Oilers in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for preseason game six of seven.
Courtesy of Michael Smith at CarolinaHurricanes.com whose game day is is a must-read on Hurricanes game days, the expected lineup is.
‘What I’m watching’
1) Martin Necas at wing
After practicing there at least once earlier in the week, rookie Martin Necas will make his debut at right wing with Jeff Skinner and Derek Ryan. Playing a game in this slot is incredibly significant since it happens to be the one slot in the Hurricanes top 9 that is actually open right now with Lee Stempniak out with an injury.
Despite showing flashes of brilliance and making passing plays greater than his point total, Necas is limited to a single power play assist on the score sheet thus far through five games. If he has a huge three-point game waiting to burst out, tonight would be the night to spend it.
This line in general will be interesting to watch in terms of chemistry and function. Jeff Skinner is an elite NHL offensive talent but not not necessarily the easiest for a scorer to play with because of Skinner’s propensity to play with the puck on his stick. And Derek Ryan is somewhat of a textbook playmaking center who also has puck skills. Enter Necas whose natural skill set is also that of a playmaking center which is has been his normal mode of operation through four preseason appearances coming into tonight. Will Necas look serviceable but mostly get lost in a role playing largely in a complementary role? Will he represent a player who can play at Skinner’s pace and enable Skinner to be dangerous 1v1 instead of the 1v2 and 1v3 situations he often sees? Is there a chance that Necas is magically the skilled player who just fits with Skinner and helps him go from being an incredibly good one-man show capable of 60 points by himself to 80 points on a line that is dynamic as a set of three?
These are the questions that make preseason hockey intriguing and are what I will be watching tonight.
2) Battle for the last blue line slot
All of Haydn Fleury, Trevor Carrick and Klas Dahlbeck who figure to slot somewhere between #6 and #8 right now and also on opening night are in the lineup tonight. The game represents a chance to any or all of them to rise or fall.
In my article handicapping the 11 non-NHL players chances of sticking at the NHL level, I suggested that in terms of sticking at the NHL level, Carrick is not so much competing against Fleury but more so trying to play up to a level whereby Ron Francis is unwilling to risk him to waivers. One of two more solid games from Carrick could make it such that Francis starts the season with eight defensemen at the NHL level to buy time and avoid risking the loss of Carrick for nothing on the waivers wire.
Jake Bean and Jake Chelios also form that ‘all Jakes’ pairing and get a chance to make an impression. I am on record as believing that Chelios is still in tow to receive the preseason game appearance that the other veteran AHL defensemen received and that Bean is still here simply to receive as much higher-level experience as possible before dropping back to Canadian juniors for the rest of the 2017-18 season.
3) Last chance for young forwards to impress
In a lineup with more NHLers resting, Wednesday could also represent the last chance for Phil Di Giuseppe, Nicolas Roy and Valentin Zykov to make an impression. The trio will be playing together in what will be Roy’s preseason debut after a delayed start due to the concussion he sustained in the Traverse City tourney.
The game could also be a big one in terms of deciding who plays on the fourth line. Marcus Kruger who is a near certainty to be in the lineup is flanked by Brock McGinn and Josh Jooris who represent two of the three players likely to be on his wings on opening night. Joakim Nordstrom is the other.
The puck drops at 9pm Eastern Time, and it looks like our hockey friends in Edmonton will be sharing a television broadcast of the game which will be accessible via the Hurricanes website.