‘What I’m watching’ — Gm33 @Cal: Canes roadie continues against red hot Flames

‘What I’m watching’ — Gm33 @Cal: Canes roadie continues against red hot Flames

After a strong effort but ‘meh’ result with an overtime loss in Vancouver on Thursday, stop number three for the Hurricanes road trip lands in Calgary on Saturday afternoon. The Flames still feature former Canes Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin and Derek Ryan, but the organization is without former Canes bench boss Bill Peters who resigned as a result of the Akim Aliu event. On the ice, the changeover has done wonders for the Flames. The team was struggling enough that the possibility was increasing that Peters might lose his job for hockey reasons. Since Peters’ resignation, the Flames are 7-0 under interim head coach Geoff Ward. The Hurricanes week has been a strange one. A fun but sloppy effort against the Oilers netted a win driven by the Canes ability to convert chances to goals at a high rate. What was probably a better effort overall on Thursday netted only an overtime loss point. Such is the ups and downs of a small sample size of games in the NHL. But even with Thursday’s overtime loss, the Hurricanes enter with positive momentum. I declared the stretch of ten games starting with the Predators game after Thanksgiving as being a tough stretch during which a modest 5-4-1 would have been acceptable. The Hurricanes are now 4-2-1 and would need only two points in the next three road games to hit that target. Against that backdrop, my watch points follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Calgary Flames 1) Best against best Calgary is a team with a high-end offensive talent. The group started slowly but has...
Canes system notes — Scoring, special teams and balance

Canes system notes — Scoring, special teams and balance

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a short collection of different notes.   Feast or famine scoring-wise In recent times, the Hurricanes have had a weird run of scoring in bunches a few times but also struggling regularly too. The team has now been shut out three times in the past seven games. At the other end of the spectrum the Canes have posted six goals twice. I think a significant factor in the ups and downs is the general lack of depth scoring. As I have written about recently, minus Erik Haula the Canes centerman lean defense over offense. I think the result is that there just are not a ton of grade A scoring chances to go around for the Wings on the lower lines. The substitute which is also impacted by Haula’s departure from the lineup can often be scoring ugly goals by crashing the crease. Regardless, the path to more scoring consistency is likely rooted in being two or three lines deep in terms of scoring.   Special teams One growing positive as the season has progressed has been the Hurricanes special teams play. Early on, the power play was a mixed bag with the second unit producing but virtually nothing from the first unit. Even with Erik Haula out of the lineup the power play has become more dynamic with movement on the flanks and has consistently produced scoring chances as a result. In addition, the penalty kill that was up and down early in the season has also rounded into form. Heading into Thursday’s game, the Hurricanes were sixth in the NHL in...
Gm32 @Van: Canes play well but net only an OTL point in 1-0 loss

Gm32 @Van: Canes play well but net only an OTL point in 1-0 loss

After a frenzy of a game in Edmonton on Tuesday that had excitement of all varieties, the first period in Vancouver on Thursday was quite subdued. The Hurricanes again started inauspiciously by taking early penalties (though the first was a bad call) but mostly minimized the chances that came from it. The Canucks were better early while the Canes tried to get going, but not much came of it. The Hurricanes played better as the period wore on, but the relatively tame period ended with a 0-0 score on an 8-5 shot advantage for the Hurricanes. The second period saw the Hurricanes dial things back up to Tuesday level. From the start of the period, the Hurricanes had the upper hand and generated all varieties of chances as a result. Sebastian Aho had a goal disallowed by a quick whistle on a penalty touch up. The Hurricanes had three power plays that were dangerous and generated chances. And a breakaway attempt by Julien Gauthier was thwarted. Only heroic efforts by Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom kept the Hurricanes 22-7 shot advantage from resulting in a lead after two periods. The game evened up again in the third period with the Hurricanes still collecting some decent chances but the Canucks doing so as well. Markstrom continued to be stellar, and Mrazek was as well. When the dust settled on the third period, the Hurricanes had finished the game with a 42-24 shot advantage and generally the upper hand in play but a 0-0 total on the scoreboard. Early in overtime a single frenetic burst by Vancouver found Elias Pettersson alone in...
‘What I’m watching’ — Gm32 @Van: Canes seek to continue winning mojo versus Vancouver

‘What I’m watching’ — Gm32 @Van: Canes seek to continue winning mojo versus Vancouver

When you enter the third period with a two-goal lead and proceed to immediately give up an extended 5-on-3 power play the league’s best power and a penalty shot to arguably the league’s best player in the middle of it and survive to win, you know the hockey gods are smiling on you. And when you also score on a fake dump in from the center line, it just makes it clearer how much the hockey gods love you right now. The Hurricanes are in the middle of another stretch like the start of the year where they seem to have the bounces o their side and the ability to just outrun and outgun any volume or level of mistakes. With the long haul that an NHL season is, the key is to ride these stretches as long as possible to climb the standings and build a gap above the playoff cut line. The Canes will try to do just that against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. Led by young talent, the Canucks are right in the thick of the playoff chase in the Western Conference and enter with three wins in their last five games. For the Hurricanes, it is not about details right now but rather just riding the vibe and continuing to find ways to win even if it requires Connor McDavid to fail to even shoot on a penalty shot attempt. My watch points for installment #2 of December’s #CanesAfterDark follows.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Vancouver Canucks 1) Riding the wave The Hurricanes seem to be feeling it right...
Crystal balling the Carolina Hurricanes blue line

Crystal balling the Carolina Hurricanes blue line

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe steps away from the here and now and takes a shot at projecting the Carolina Hurricanes blue line a couple years into the future.   The core — Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce I think the two mainstays for the blue line are Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce. Both are in their prime at 25 years old, are established and proven top 4 defensemen and are signed long-term to bargain contracts. Whenever either’s name pops up in some outlandish trade rumor note the source so you can discount it in the future and move on. Both Pesce and Slavin are destined to be half of the Hurricanes top 4 on defense for a long time.   Decisions, decisions — Dougie Hamilton, Joel Edmundson, Trevor van Riemsdyk Without any sure things in the system right now, the Hurricanes ideally need to keep at least one if not two current players to fill out the top 4. The team has three defensemen whose contracts expire soon. Both Joel Edmundson and Trevor van Riemsdyk are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents this summer. Dougie Hamilton is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2020-21 season. With budget as a consideration, the team will need to decide which of these three players to commit to long-term and which part ways with especially if the price is not right. Dougie Hamilton is the king pin in sorting out the group past Slavin and Pesce. On the one hand he is thriving right now, especially offensively. On the other hand, management has shown a propensity under Tom Dundon to...