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Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes: Five questions with Canes Country

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Tampa Bay Lightning v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes: GAME #10

Time: 7:00 Eastern Time

Location: PNC Arena

Broadcast / Streaming: FSCR, Sun

Opponent SBNation Site: Canes Country

Preview:

Tampa Bay Lightning will meet the Carolina Hurricanes three times this season, and tonight’s meeting is the first. The second time is in January at Amalie Arena a few weeks before the All-Star Game, and the third time is the very last game of the season, on April 7 in Carolina.

The Canes will see the Bolts at three very different parts of the season: in the early, hopeful days, in the hard-slogging middle part of the year, and at the very end when our fates are all sealed. Each time, this team with a young and much-vaunted defense will be a good measuring stick of Tampa’s ability to maintain possession and keep up the shots on net.

At present, Carolina sits at 7th place in the Metro division, with a record of 3-2-1 and only 6 games played. Tampa will be playing its 10th game of the season against Carolina, and is currently first in the Atlantic (and the league) with a record of 7-1-1. Canes Country pointed out that their team currently has a shooting percentage of 7.9% (quite different than the Bolts’ 13.2%), and that to beat the Bolts, they have to increase the amount and quality of shots on Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Their top D-pair of Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce will likely draw against the “Stamkov” line, and Tampa will more than likely face Scott Darling in net.

Since this is our first meeting with the Canes this season, we are joined by Justin Lape and Brian LeBlanc of Canes Country to answer a few good questions about the 2017-18 team.

Five questions with Canes Country:

Raw Charge: There's a lot of talk about how good the young Canes defensive corps is this year. Which player has had the most impact so far this season?

Canes Country: The player that has had the most impact so far on the back end this season is Jaccob Slavin. He is the Canes’ best defenseman, and now regularly receives attention from media from around the league. His most outstanding game this season came in a victory over the Edmonton Oilers where he was regularly shifted against Connor McDavid, holding McDavid to a single assist. Slavin excels at cutting off passing lanes and has become extremely smart at reading plays and preventing them before they happen.

Raw Charge: Jeff Skinner is doing what Jeff Skinner does with five goals so far. No one else has yet to match this on the Canes. Who along the front line needs to step up and start putting the puck in the back of the net?

Canes Country: With Jeff Skinner off to a great start, the Canes would really benefit if Victor Rask woke up. Rask finished with 45 points last season but has only recorded a goal and an assist so far this season. He has developed into a reliable second-line center but more is asked of him this year with the Canes having higher expectations. Will he cave under the pressure? Remains to be seen.

Raw Charge: How Swede it must be to have five on your roster. You also have another Swede in Lucas Wallmark making noise down in the AHL. How confident would you be in him if he needed to step into the line-up and help produce?

Canes Country: Lucas Wallmark has developed into a fantastic playmaker. Charlotte Checkers head coach Mike Vellucci recently told me that Wallmark is just "a step or two" from a full time NHL position. The Hurricanes have the luxury currently to allow him to develop further instead of rushing him but there would be no issue plugging him into the lineup if an injury on the NHL roster occurred

Raw Charge: How has the coaching system and personnel deployment changed since Bill Peters joined?

Canes Country: Bill Peters has implemented a defensive system that begs for puck possession and shot suppression. He has utilized his plethora of young defensemen well, giving them ample opportunity to grow into confident players and not sheltering them.

With the added personnel in Justin Williams, Marcus Kruger and Trevor Van Riemsdyk, Peters has plugged them into the lineup seamlessly. His one flaw as coach is he has managed his goaltenders somewhat questionably. In years past, he has overused Cam Ward in stretches that may have not been ideal.

Raw Charge: Is it a huge relief to have Scott Darling as your starter?

Canes Country: Scott Darling is now THE man in net for the Carolina Hurricanes. It is a big relief to have a viable option in net for the first time since "prime Cam Ward." Darling is expected to lead the team and hold on to the number one spot for years until Callum Booth or Alex Nedeljkovic are ready to play.

Ward should fit well in a backup role as he begins to age. He had an impressive 48 save win in Edmonton but Darling still has been solid through his first few starts. Darling has lofty expectations placed on him as he heads into his first season as a starter but he looks to be up for the task and, hopefully, lead the Hurricanes back to the postseason.

Raw Charge: Thanks for your time!

Tampa Bay Lightning:

Forward Lines:

Vladislav Namestnikov - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Yanni Gourde

Chris Kunitz - JT Brown - Ryan Callahan

Alex Killorn - Tyler Johnson - Gabriel Dumont

Defense Pairings:

Victor Hedman - Jake Dotchin

Mikhail Sergachev - Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn - Dan Girardi

Slater Koekkoek - Andrej Sustr

Goaltenders:

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Peter Budaj

Carolina Hurricanes

Forward Lines:

Teuvo Teravainen - Jordan Staal - Justin Williams

Sebastian Aho - Victor Rask - Elias Lindholm

Jeff Skinner - Derek Ryan - Brock McGinn

Joakim Nordstrom - Marcus Kruger - Josh Jooris

Defense Pairings:

Jaccob Slavin - Brett Pesce

Noah Hanifin - Justin Faulk

Haydn Fleury - Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltenders:

Scott Darling

Cam Ward