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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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Hurricanes get mixed bag of updates on Andrei Svechnikov, Antti Raanta

The Carolina Hurricanes receive some good and some bad news regarding injuries to key players nearing the NHL trade deadline

In a rollercoaster of updates for the Carolina Hurricanes, the team grapples with a mixed bag of news regarding goaltender Antti Raanta and forward Andrei Svechnikov. Raanta’s absence due to a lower-body injury poses a challenge for the Hurricanes, while Svechnikov’s return injects a much-needed boost to the team’s forward lineup.

Antti Raanta, the 34-year-old Finnish goaltender, is set to be sidelined for at least two weeks, as confirmed by Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour (per TheScore’s Jared Tilton). This announcement follows Raanta’s second-period appearance in the recent 5-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, where he made nine crucial saves in relief of Pyotr Kochetkov. However, Kochetkov had to step back into the net for the third period, highlighting the precarious situation in the Hurricanes’ goaltending department.

Raanta’s season has been tumultuous, marked by a struggle to find consistent form. With a 2.99 goals-against average and an .872 save percentage over 24 games (20 starts), Raanta has faced scrutiny for being among the league’s bottom-tier netminders in various statistical categories, including goals saved above average and goals saved above expected. Despite these challenges, Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour expressed confidence in the team’s goaltending depth, especially with the acquisition of Spencer Martin from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Spencer Martin, claimed off waivers in January, is expected to step into the backup role behind Pyotr Kochetkov in Raanta’s absence. Martin has already showcased his capabilities with a stellar 26-save performance in a 3-2 victory against the Boston Bruins on January 24. Hurricanes coach Brind’Amour emphasized the importance of having reliable goaltenders, especially considering the injuries the team has faced throughout the season.

“It’s good to have guys who know how to play that position because of all the injuries that have gone on here,” Brind’Amour commented, underlining the significance of goaltending stability in the face of an injury-plagued season.

Meanwhile, on the offensive front, the Hurricanes receive a positive update with the return of forward Andrei Svechnikov (per NHL.com). After missing six games due to an upper-body injury, Svechnikov is set to rejoin the lineup for the upcoming game against the New Jersey Devils. The 21-year-old Russian forward expressed his readiness to return but acknowledged the challenges of regaining game shape after an injury-induced hiatus.

“I feel ready to go, obviously playing tonight,” Svechnikov said. “It’s not easy to come back after an injury, trust me. You miss a few weeks, you lose that (game shape). You just hope to get that as soon as possible.”

Svechnikov’s absence has been notable this season, having missed the first eight games due to surgery for a torn ACL in his right knee sustained in March. He also sat out six games in December with an upper-body injury. Despite the setbacks, Svechnikov has amassed an impressive 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists) in the 29 games he’s played this season.

Coach Brind’Amour highlighted the importance of having key players like Svechnikov in the lineup for the team’s success. “If we want to be the team we want to be, you’ve got to have your best players in there,” he emphasized. “He was very impactful, and that’s what he’s capable of doing. We need him in there.”

As the Hurricanes navigate through the challenges of goaltending injuries and welcome back a key forward, the team faces a crucial juncture in the season. With the trade deadline looming on March 8, Carolina will need to assess its goaltending situation carefully, considering both Raanta’s injury and the impending return of Frederik Andersen, who has been out since November due to a blood clotting issue. The Hurricanes currently have just under $6.7 million in projected deadline cap space, leaving room for potential moves to bolster their roster for the playoff push.

In conclusion, the Hurricanes find themselves at a pivotal moment in the season, juggling the setbacks of Raanta’s injury with the positive return of Svechnikov. As the team looks ahead, the focus will be on maintaining consistency in goaltending and leveraging the offensive firepower provided by their key players. The resilience of the Hurricanes will undoubtedly be put to the test as they navigate the challenges of the remainder of the season and aim for success in the playoffs.

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