Winners in five of their last six, the Carolina Hurricanes kick off a three-game homestand tonight against the Flames — and they’ll do it in style.
Captain Eric Staal, out since Jan. 4 with an injury, will return to the lineup, as will forwards Jiri Tlusty (appendectomy) and Riley Nash (lower body), according to ‘Canes web producer Michael Smith.
Staal, tied with Jeff Skinner for the club’s scoring lead with 35 points, has recovered sufficiently enough from his lower-body ailment to help the ‘Canes in their playoff push. Despite a setback in Columbus on Saturday (3-0 loss), the ‘Canes — who were 14-16-9 on Dec. 29 — have pushed to within two points of Detroit for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and three back of the Rangers for third in the Metropolitan Division.
Tlusty, who scored a career-high 23 goals last year, has just 10 points through 37 games this year but will add depth to a forward group that’s been banged up as of late. Nash, a former first-round pick, seems to have found his niche in Carolina as a two-way checking forward — he’s notched a career-high 10 points this season and was averaging nearly 12 minutes per game prior to getting hurt.
Teuvo Teravainen has played both center and right wing over the course of his brief NHL career.
Now, he’s got a new position — left wing — and a pair of shiny new linemates to boot.
Teravainen will open the year playing alongside captain Jonathan Toews and right wing Marian Hossa, per the Sun-Times.
The move could be a boon for the young Finn. Several ex-Chicago wingers thrived playing alongside Toews and Hossa, most notably Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp.
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of production Teravainen, who just turned 21 last month, can manufacture on Chicago’s top line. His numbers from last year weren’t spectacular (nine points in 34 games), but he did a solid job of racking up points en route to the Stanley Cup, with 10 in 18 games.
It’ll also be interesting to see how long he sticks with Toews and Hossa.
Head coach Joel Quenneville has been known as a frequent user of the line blender, often switching up his combos at at moment’s notice.
That said, Quenneville is hoping to find some stability with this new-look group.
“[Teuvo will] play there to start the season,” he said. “Hopefully, all year.”
Pretty cool story out of Texas, where Mattias Janmark, the 22-year-old rookie that’s played a grand total of nine games in North America, has defied the odds to make the Stars’ opening-night roster.
“It’s a great story,” Dallas GM Jim Nill said, per the Morning News. “We really only planned to have him here for maybe two preseason games and then send him back. But he just kept being one of the best players out there, and he changed our minds.
“It’s a great example of what you can do if you just play hard.”
Nill acquired Janmark, 22, from Detroit at last year’s deadline as part of the Erik Cole trade. Nill was familiar with the Swedish forward from his time with the Wings — he was part of the front office team that drafted Janmark in ’13 — but didn’t think the deal would pay such immediate dividends.
As for Janmark, he didn’t even think he’d be in North America this year.
He has a contract with SHL club Frolunda, where he scored 36 points in 55 games last year. Given he’s barely played in the AHL — a few games with Grand Rapids, a few with Texas — Janmark figured he’d be back in Europe this season.
His strong play in the exhibition season changed all that. Janmark beat out two of Dallas’ touted prospects — former AHL rookie of the year Curtis McKenzie, and ’12 first-rounder Radek Faksa — for a roster spot, and showed good chemistry with third-line center Cody Eakin.
Janmark also performed well on a line with Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky.