‘What I’m watching’ — Gm50 Wpg: Canes aim to empty the tank versus Jets in pre-break finale

‘What I’m watching’ — Gm50 Wpg: Canes aim to empty the tank versus Jets in pre-break finale

After a mostly ‘meh’, even ugly but somehow still exhilarating and productive weekend, the Hurricanes have arrived at the last game before what looks to be a much-needed break. The team garnered an OTL point on home ice against a struggling Anaheim team on Friday and followed up by grinding out a shootout win on Sunday to make for a product three out of four points despite a low volume of high-end hockey. Tuesday represents a chance to put an exclamation point on the three-game home stand before a long layoff that seems to be incredibly well timed. The Winnipeg Jets also enter the game desperate for points. The team sits below the playoff cut line by a couple points and has been sputtering of late with losses in four of their last four games including two straight losses by ugly 5-2 and 7-1 margins. Will the Jets look desperate and defeated or hungry and determined? On the Hurricanes side, can they find one good game? Or if not, can they muster another ‘just find a way’, ugly win maybe led by goaltending? My watch points follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Winnipeg Jets 1) James Reimer Recently, a regular theme in my game previews has been the need for a hero or two to step up, put the team on his/their back and help the team be productive even in a down stretch. James Reimer has been that timely hero. In his last three starts that coincided with the team seeming to hit a wall physically, he is 2-0-1. What is more impressive...
Rising up? — Player notes on Haydn Fleury and James Reimer

Rising up? — Player notes on Haydn Fleury and James Reimer

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe has notes on a couple players   Haydn Fleury With Dougie Hamilton out of the lineup, Haydn Fleury is set to receive an extended run in the lineup. The next couple months could be pivotal for Fleury’s career. Fleury is now 23 years old, in his third season at the NHL level (with AHL stints in both of the first two seasons) and has logged 113 games in the NHL. If he has a next level up, he should be making the transition from acclimating to the NHL to finding a higher gear. His second half of the season will likely determine where he slots for 2020-21. With Trevor van Riemsdyk and Joel Edmundson set to become unrestricted free agents this summer, strong play could put Fleury at #5 on the depth chart heading into the off-season and have the team only looking for a depth defenseman complement. If instead Fleury struggles down the stretch, he likely gets pegged as a #6/#7 defenseman again, and the team could add a player or two to slot above him. His play has been good in both games since Hamilton’s injury. Hopefully, that is Fleury seizing the opportunity and not just a short upswing that is part of the ups and downs of a long season. That said, I still see the same couple limitations with his game. He still has too great of a propensity to make simple plays to get the puck off his stick. No doubt there are times when chipping the puck off the boards to the neutral zone is the best play,...
Current Canes trends

Current Canes trends

Happy Martin Luther King Day! “The time is always right to do what is right.” –MLK   Today’s Daily Cup of Joe has a short list of Canes trends both positive and negative.   Positive Where it matters First and foremost, after a generally tough week and rough stretch that reaches back even farther, the Hurricanes now have a one-game winning streak and two-game point streak. The NHL season is a long one that has its ups and downs even for good hockey team. Being able to scratch out a few points to stop the bleeding and make progress points-wise despite the recent struggles could prove to be huge come April.   James Reimer James Reimer is 3-0-1 in 2020 for a four-game point streak. He has recently been the duct tape holding the team together such that it has not just exploded recently. As noted in my game recap yesterday, Reimer is 2-0-1 in his last three starts for five points in the standings despite receiving only a single goal for support in each game (not counting an empty-netter).   The blue line minus Dougie Hamilton The Hurricanes continue to struggle a bit offensively which is definitely an area where Dougie Hamilton could help, but defensively the blue line has been pretty solid in two games minus Hamilton. The breakdowns that the Hurricanes have had in the two games minus Hamilton have been more by the forwards. The sample size is tiny, but so far the blue line has been competent even if maybe light on offensive help.   Negative Scoring woes Since winning a wild 5-4 game...
Gm49 vs. NYI: James Reimer leads and Justin Williams finishes in 2-1 shootout win over the Isles

Gm49 vs. NYI: James Reimer leads and Justin Williams finishes in 2-1 shootout win over the Isles

Stylistically, Sunday’s game against the New York Islanders was little different than Friday’s loss to Anaheim or a couple other recent losses. The Hurricanes struggled to generate much for good or better scoring chances, and the only goal that they scored was a random deflection off a defenseman’s stick from an odd angle for a goal that almost certainly was not finding the net otherwise. And on a couple really good chances with Brock McGinn’s goal mouth miss and a Sebastian Aho partial breakaway topping the list, the team seemed to be pressing a bit and missed. Had an unlucky bounce or even worse a Canes miscue led to a late goal against and a regulation loss like in the Columbus loss last week, this game would have been another dismal and disappointing loss that plunged the team further into despair. But the outcome plays a huge role in painting an NHL game as positive versus negative, and that painting turned out beautiful in the end despite not at all being a work of art getting there. The single biggest factor in the game was again James Reimer’s play. As I said on Twitter right after the game ended: Justin Williams will garner the headlines, but the biggest hero right now as @Canes try to gut it out has been James Reimer. Canes have scored exactly 1 goal in each of his last 3 starts (not counting empty-netter), and he has converted that to a 2-0-1 mark for 5 big points. — Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) January 20, 2020 Somewhat similar to Curtis McElhinney during the down stretch in...
‘What I’m watching’ — Gm49 Vs. NYI: Canes try to salvage week with game versus the Islanders

‘What I’m watching’ — Gm49 Vs. NYI: Canes try to salvage week with game versus the Islanders

Very recently, the Carolina Hurricanes were in the first wild card slot with a multi-point gap above the playoff cut line and were looking to move up the Metropolitan Division standings. Fast forward to today, and the Hurricanes suddenly sit in tenth place in the Eastern Conference needing to leap frog a couple teams to move back into playoff position. More significant than the place in the standings which is more or less right at the cut line is the team’s current trajectory with three straight losses mostly in lackluster fashion. The All-Star break is now only two games away, but much better would be to stop the bleeding by winning a hockey game instead of being rescued by the schedule. Sunday’s match up pits two wounded teams against each other. As noted above, the Canes enter with three straight losses and the potential for a four-loss week with only a single consolation point. The Islanders enter with two straight regulation losses and losses in four of five games. Both teams enter the game not playing particularly well and desperately needing a win. For the Canes, I feel like it is mostly about finding a positive rhythm and finding a way. Pretty counts for nothing. Two points mean everything. The story heading into Friday’s game was the blue line minus Dougie Hamilton. By no means was the defensive play perfect, but the real issue continues to be the team’s lack of jump and ability to generate much offensively. My watch points follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the New York Islanders 1) Jump! Starting with...