‘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...
‘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...
‘What I’m watching’ — Gm48 Vs. Ana: Canes try to dig in against Anaheim after tough Thursday

‘What I’m watching’ — Gm48 Vs. Ana: Canes try to dig in against Anaheim after tough Thursday

After twice coming back from down a goal and seemingly having at least a point in hand, a return of the defensive breakdowns gifted Columbus two point blank chances, two goals and a win. Far worse than the loss of the game was the loss of Dougie Hamilton to a broken leg. Details with schedule have yet to emerge, but it seems like the minimum is 8-12 weeks. But as I said on Twitter this afternoon, injuries are the norm in the NHL and good teams find a way to overcome. Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets have been literal MASH units this year with both quantity and key player injuries. Yet the Penguins sit in second place in the Metro and the Blue Jackets are right there with the Canes. Excuses count for nothing mid-April. Good teams find a way to overcome. That starts tonight with the Hurricanes back on home ice and really needing a win after an 0-2 start to the week. The opponent is an Anaheim Ducks team that has entered the draft lottery race already but enters with a win in their last game over Nashville that is a reminder that outcomes are decided on the ice not by looking at the standings. On the Canes side, this game is about finding a way to get back in the win column and simultaneously take a first positive step forward without Dougie Hamilton. My watch points follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Anaheim Ducks 1) The blue line Minus Dougie Hamilton, best bet is that Brind’Amour balances things...
‘What I’m watching’ — Gm47 @Clu: Canes continue busy stretch versus Columbus

‘What I’m watching’ — Gm47 @Clu: Canes continue busy stretch versus Columbus

After closing out the five-game home stand strong with two wins to finish 5-2, the first road game and also first of five before the break was a dud in a 2-0 loss to the Capitals on Monday. The concern right now is that this team is out of gas about 10 days early. The Canes had nothing but James Reimer in the latter half of Saturday’s win over Los Angeles, and once down 2-0 had trouble finding a higher gear on Monday. Hopefully two days off will help because the team is now on the tracks for a quick run of four games in six days before the break arrives. Thursday’s opponent is no help either. The Canes face a Columbus team that is playing well right now and has climbed the ladder to just below the Canes in the playoff chase. The Blue Jackets have won four their last five and have points in 16 of 18 games for an impressive 12-2-4 run. On top of that, the Blue Jackets’ aggressive straight line style of play that tries to eliminate transition play has been challenging for the Canes. But more so than the opponent, this game is about the Hurricanes finding a higher gear again. Can a couple days off be enough to recharge? Is it a matter of just digging down and leveraging determination to get through four more? Can a goalie steal a win? At least based on the past two games, the team has entered the ‘just find a way’ zone that happens here and there during the course of a long 82-game NHL...
‘What I’m watching’ — Gm46 @Was: Canes return to the road against familiar foe in the Caps

‘What I’m watching’ — Gm46 @Was: Canes return to the road against familiar foe in the Caps

After wrapping up a successful 5-2 home stand on Saturday, the Hurricanes return to the road with a quick turnaround against a familiar foe in the Washington Capitals. The match up will be the third meeting between the two teams in about two weeks time and is also the last regular season match up for 2019-20. The game also starts a busy stretch run of five games in nine days leading up to the layoff for the All-Star break and bye week. Despite the Canes recent success including a 2-1 regular season mark against the Capitals, the Caps are a tough match up especially on the road such that picking up two points or even one would be a great start to the busy stretch. The Capitals enter the game on a bit of a down note having lost two games in a row in regulation for only the second time this season, with a meager 4-5 mark in their past nine games and on the heels of a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of the last place Devils. It is hard to say if the Canes are lucky catching the Caps during a down streak or unlucky catching them when they should be determined/hungry for a win. I guess we will see tonight. On the Canes side, the past month or so has been a bit of a roller coaster ride, but with three straight wins, the current trajectory is upward. The burning question coming out of Saturday’s game is what the Canes will have for energy level after grinding out a win despite a lackluster effort by...
‘What I’m watching’ — Gm45 Vs. LA: Canes try to ride the Whale to win and 5-2 mark for the home stand

‘What I’m watching’ — Gm45 Vs. LA: Canes try to ride the Whale to win and 5-2 mark for the home stand

After what I consider the most impressive and complete win at least since the long road trip, the Canes now sit at 4-2 for the seven-game home stand. The ball is on the tee for a great weekend and conclusion to the home run with Whalers night at PNC Arena on Saturday night and a beatable opponent in the Los Angeles Kings. With an 18-24-4 mark for the 2019-20 season, the Kings are on the outside looking in for the playoff race already. The Kings are 3-6-1 in their past 10 games, but their 5-2 win Thursday over the Vegas Golden Knights is a reminder that advantages on paper do not automatically convert to wins on the ice. On the Hurricanes side of the ledger, the team is currently on another upswing on the roller coaster with consecutive home wins. Maybe more significantly the team is coming off what would probably be a top 5 win for the season in terms of playing a complete game and being sound and solid for a full 60 minutes instead of just winning via a burst or two of scoring. The game is a big one in terms of trajectory. A loss makes for an okay but mostly treading water-ish 4-3 mark for the home stand, whereas a win finishes strong with a 5-2 mark that is even more impressive considering the level of competition that included Washington twice and also red hot Tampa Bay. My watch points follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Los Angeles Kings 1) Continuation from Friday For pretty much the entirety of...