The Carolina Hurricanes haven’t played a hockey game in more than 10 days after a COVID-19 outbreak ravaged the team. The Lightning and Hurricanes were supposed to play each other on Tuesday, but that game was postponed after the NHL notified the public that five players on the Canes had tested positive. In total, the team has had four games postponed due to the outbreak and are only now at a state where the NHL is confident they know who is infected and who is not. Hence, the game with the Lightning is going forward.
The Hurricanes have had six players appear on the NHL’s COVID protocol list: Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen, Jesper Fast, Warren Foegele, Jordan Martinook, Jaccob Slavin. Staal has only just been taken off the list (ben on since Jan 15th), with the remaining five out for tonight’s game. The Lightning have had two players placed on the protocol list: Blake Coleman and Curtis McElhinney. Coleman is back with the team, missing the last game against Columbus because he was late for practice. McElhinney has been on the protocol list since Jan 16th, almost two weeks ago — the team hopes they see him back sometime this week. Next game is Saturday against Nashville.
#tblightning Jon Cooper hopes to have Curtis McElhinney back this week. Veteran goalie has been on Covid related protocol list. Cernak is day to day still, status for Thursday uncertain— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) January 26, 2021
On the non-COVID injured list, the Hurricanes are “healthy” with the Lightning missing two players. Erik Cernak is still day-to-day with an upper body injury, while Mitchell Stephens is out indefinitely with a leg injury suffered in the last game.
The Lightning have won three of their four games this season, and look mostly like what they did last year. In the second game against the Blue Jackets, the team just didn’t look themselves, but they lost two players mid-game (three if you include Ondrej Palat missing some time with a high stick to the face) and the team didn’t feel in sync enough to sustain pressure like their normally well-oiled machine does. A week of practice should have resolved this.
As for the Hurricanes, they haven’t played in nearly two weeks after starting the season with two wins and a loss against Detroit and Nashville. Who knows whether they’ll be rusty, or polished after weeks of practice. I can’t imagine the mental strain of dealing with an outbreak along with a lessened roster will do them good.
Tampa Bay Lightning Lines
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Steven Stamkos
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Tyler Johnson
Blake Coleman - Yanni Gourde - Barclay Goodrow
Pat Maroon - Mathieu Joseph - Alex Volkov
Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh - Luke Schenn
Mikhail Sergachev - Cal Foote
Carolina Hurricanes Lines
Andrei Svechnikov - Sebastian Aho - Brock McGinn
Nino Niederreiter - Vincent Trocheck - Martin Necas
Steven Lorentz - Jordan Staal - Ryan Dzingel
Max McCormick - Morgan Geekie - Joakim Ryan (D)
Brady Skjei - Dougie Hamilton
Jake Gardiner - Brett Pesce
Haydn Fleury - Jake Bean