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10/21/2021 Game Thread: Carolina @ Montreal


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Part of the Job: Kotkaniemi Prepared For Return To Montreal

Thursday night. Canes vs. Canadiens. Jesperi Kotkaniemi returns to Centre Bell.

The stage is set and by now most angles of the story have been covered. But what's it really like as we now inch closer to tomorrow night's return north of the border for the Canes forward to take on his former team for the first time?

Tuesday afternoon the Finnish talent was made available by Hurricanes PR for a Zoom media availability, where 39 attendees, including many representing outlets from Canada, provided a variety of questions for the 21-year-old. Most questions were fair and what you would expect to be asked ahead of someone's return to a place where they hold prior experience, some of the questions were in attempt to create storylines going into the contest. The reality of the situation was that Kotkaniemi handled himself with class, navigating everything thrown at him in a professional manner - including having the wherewithal to say it would be "inappropriate" to say he would have been unhappy if Montreal had matched the Canes offer sheet.

"It's part of the job," he shared laughingly afterward, again seemingly unphased by the atypical situation taking place two days before a game. "I think everything went alright, it's just one of those things you need to deal with."



The Habs are winless in their first four games and will be looking for a spark on offense to reverse the early season slide. Forward Jonathan Drouin (2 goals) and defenseman Chris Wideman (1 goal) are the team's only goal scorers a week into the regular season.

The Canadiens also have work to do on special teams as they hope to get the power play clicking (0 for 13), while also shoring up the penalty kill (58.8%).

At the other end of the ice, the Hurricanes arrive in Montreal undefeated following a pair of 6-3 and 3-2 wins opposite the New York Islanders and Nashville Predators, respectively.

Through two games, Carolina's penalty kill is operating at a 100% efficiency (7 for 7) and the power play has produced two goals in nine opportunities with the man advantage (22.2%).

Winger Andrei Svechnikov leads the team in goals (3) and points (4) while goaltender Frederik Andersen has backstopped both Canes' wins with a .926 save percentage and a 2.50 goals-against-average.

Thursday's game will notably mark the return of Jesperi Kotkaniemi to the Bell Centre. The former Canadiens first-round pick (3rd overall) from 2018 is still looking for his first point in a Carolina uniform.

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How to watch:

Radio: TuneIn, 99.9 The Fan

TV: Bally Sports South

Stream: DirecTV Stream (Raleigh Market)

              ESPN+/Disney Bundle (Everywhere else)

Quotes and Nuggets:

"It'll be fun." Jesperi Kotkaniem

"Last year I felt liked I didn't have luck this year I got [some] so far and hopefully it keeps going." Andrei Svechnikov

"Oh, there’s beef between these two franchises." Adam Gold

Gold's game preview...

"Make no mistake, the Montreal fans will remind Kotkaniemi that he did not play like the 3rd overall draft pick from 2018. And, there's no doubt that their tushes are still a bit enflamed by the $6.1 million offer sheet that wrenched "KK" from their roster over the summer -- especially since their gambit for Sebastian Aho three summers ago failed to connect. But, their fuel will truly be the disappointing start to the season from the Canadiens."

"So, to sum up the depth of the feud. We have perpetual, unfounded relocation rumours, a pair of restricted free agent battles, two Carolina playoff series wins -- including the Miracle at Molson and Carolina's comeback from losing the first two games at home in 2006 -- AND a 9-2-1 edge in the season series over the last four normal seasons."

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Part of the reason I don’t have Canes season tickets is because they play too many games on Thursdays and Thursdays are no good for me (yes, I know this is an away game). I’ll be out of pocket for this one. I’m going to try and pay attention through the ESPN Gamecast. 

I want each of you to know that if Svech scores I’ll be jumping for joy. Enjoy the game (in Svech’s voice) “my brothers”.

Edited by zacka77ack
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