For the Carolina Hurricanes, the dash to the end line season has start.
The Canes host the Florida Panthers on Tuesday and Thursday in what‘s presumably a preview of what should be a Central Division first- or second-round playoff series. The top four teams in each division qualify and the Panthers (26-9-4) go into Tuesday’s recreation first within the division with 56 factors and the Canes (25-9-3) third with 53, one level behind Tampa Bay.
The Panthers have performed 39 video games and the Canes 37, so the Canes’ two games-in-hand on Florida gained’t change till after the two-game set at PNC Arena. Tampa Bay (26-10-2) has performed 38 video games.
With 19 video games remaining within the condensed season, the Canes have a goaltending equation that wants clarifying. Three goalies are wholesome: James Reimer, Alex Nedeljkovic and now Petr Mrazek.
There aren’t sufficient video games left to maintain all three recent. There gained’t be sufficient observe time to maintain three sharp. Someone should sit, however whom?
Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour has been in a position to slip that query throughout Mrazek’s lengthy rehab from thumb surgical procedure. Reimer and Nedeljkovic performed. But Mrazek returned Sunday for his first NHL recreation since Jan. 30 and shut out the Dallas Stars, 1-0 — no simple activity.
The query arose once more Sunday for Brind’Amour: what now with the goalies?
“We’re going to take a day and regroup on it,” Brind’Amour mentioned after the sport. “It’s great to know that Petr’s back as far as being sharp and there are no questions there. He’d been out a long time.
“The question that’s obviously going to come is what kind of workload do you give him, and he’s got to have a few starts to really get in the groove of playing every day or that conditioning aspect. So we’ll regroup tomorrow and kind of figure it out.”
The day for the Canes workers to “regroup” was Monday when the Canes didn’t observe or have any media availability. It was hunker-down time.
The goaltending query could be simpler to reply if Mrazek had struggled a bit Sunday however he made 28 saves. He was robust when issues have been tight, within the last minutes of regulation because the Stars pulled their goalie for a sixth attacker and attacked, looking a tying purpose.
“He didn’t have a lot of work for two (periods) and then when we needed him, he was there in the last five minutes,” Brind’Amour mentioned. “He made three or more spectacular, especially weird ones that got in that he couldn’t see. They weren’t Grade-A’s but they were coming from angles and screens. He fought through it. He was good, obviously.”
If the Canes, with a watch to the playoffs, decide Mrazek will likely be their No. 1 goalie, they’ll give him appreciable work within the last 19 video games. His shutout Sunday was his third in 5 begins this season and his numbers stay eye-opening: A 0.74 goals-against common and .968 save share.
Trade may very well be an choice
An choice, and common supervisor Don Waddell has broached the thought a time or two, could be buying and selling one of many goalies. The NHL trade deadline is Monday, April 12 and the Canes could be on the lookout for one other ahead with Brock McGinn’s standing now doubtful.
McGinn, a tricky winger who by no means appears to come back out of a recreation and never return, did simply that Sunday. The Canes mentioned he had an upper-body harm and Brind’Amour mentioned after the sport that it “doesn’t look good.”
There’s additionally the matter of Teuvo Teravainen. The winger stays sidelined with concussion signs, his return timetable unknown. COVID-19 and the concussion have restricted him to 13 video games this season.
Reimer has a 14-4-1 report with a 2.71 GAA and .905 save share. Nedeljkovic, who was named the NHL rookie of the month for March, is 8-4-2 with a 2.12 GAA and .924 share.
“I would say Alex and (Reimer) both played really, really well,” Mrazek mentioned after Sunday’s recreation. “They gave the team a chance to win every night and they did a great job.”
That was in February and March. It’s April and Mrazek is again.
All three goalies are within the last years of their respective contacts, and Mrazek and Reimer are attributable to turn into unrestricted free brokers after the season. That will issue into any trade dialogue whereas providing an added monetary incentive for all three.
It’s not a goaltending quandary nevertheless it does want clarifying.
Carolina Hurricanes vs Florida Panthers
- When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
- Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh.
- TV: BSSO (Bally Sports)