‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm82 @Phi: Hurricanes close out 2016-17 schedule versus Flyers

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm82 @Phi: Hurricanes close out 2016-17 schedule versus Flyers

After an emotional Saturday for the home finale and more importantly what preceded it, the team hits the road for game #82 to close out the Carolina Hurricanes schedule for the 2016-17 season. If you were away from Canes hockey on Saturday and missed the special day surrounding Bryan Bickell, I highly recommend that you use yesterday’s game recap as a starting point to find coverage of the day’s events. About a week ago, the Hurricanes were on their way to a significantly-improved 2016-17 season, but with a 5-game losing streak heading into Sunday, the Hurricanes sit at 85 points. That is 1 point shy of what the team achieved in 2015-16, so it now takes a win to improve at least in terms of points earned. Both the Flyers and Hurricanes had their runs during the season but in the end fell short of making the playoffs. The Flyers surged to a huge winning streak during the front part of winter and sat firmly in a wild card slot only a couple of months ago. The Hurricanes dug their traditional early season hole and played their best hockey during a magical 13-game point streak in the second half of March. But when the final horn blows on Sunday night in Philadelphia, both teams will head into the off-season and begin work to do better in 2017-18.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Hurricanes versus the Philadelphia Flyers 1) Sergey Tolchinsky He will get his second game to make an impression that carries forward to training camp next fall. On Saturday, he picked up a pretty/heady assist on Saturday...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm81 Vs. StL: Home finale versus St. Louis Blues is retry on 2016-17 goodbye

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm81 Vs. StL: Home finale versus St. Louis Blues is retry on 2016-17 goodbye

One would never guess it if Thursday’s game was used for evidence, but the Carolina Hurricanes have actually been a pretty good hockey team at home in PNC Arena during the 2016-17 season. With a win in the home finale on Saturday, the Hurricanes could finish as high as eleventh in the NHL on home ice. And the season has offered a number of exhilarating home wins (many of which were included in Andrew Schnittker’s article on February 15)  including Skinner’s hattie/no hattie in the home opener, a wild 8-6 win over Vancouver, a big 5-0 win over Philadelphia led by an Aho hat trick and many more. After laying an egg on Thursday night against the Islanders, it would be nice to see the Hurricanes rise up and send its fan base into the off-season on a good note. The game will also feature another round of evaluations aimed at getting a head start on next fall’s training camp. The latest recall is Sergey Tolchinsky. The undersized, skilled puck magician has had a mediocre 2016-17 season in the AHL that has included time missed due to injuries, so Saturday and Sunday at the NHL level could be an opportunity for Tolchinsky to make a positive impression heading into to summer. The St. Louis Blues have already clinched a playoff spot but still have something to play for. With a win on Saturday in Raleigh, the Blues would clinch the #3 slot in the Central Division and in the process steer clear of a first round match up with the Blackhawks. ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm80 Vs. NYI: Building for 2017-18 officially starts versus Islanders

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm80 Vs. NYI: Building for 2017-18 officially starts versus Islanders

When Ottawa won on Tuesday night with the Hurricanes’ game still in progress, the Carolina Hurricanes were officially eliminated from NHL playoff contention for 2017. There is no more “we just need to keep winning,” “let’s play well and see what happens,” or any of that. The team is officially playing with a short runway of games to prepare for the 2017-18 season. The New York Islanders are not officially in the same boat but are more or less finished. To make the playoffs would require the Isles to win their last 3 games and also have 1 of Ottawa or Toronto lose all 3 of their remaining games in addition to some help from Tampa Bay. I see 3 story lines for this game. First is the return of Bryan Bickell who will make his return to Raleigh after suiting up for his first NHL game on Tuesday night in Minnesota after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis on November 11, 2016. Second is game 2 of Andrew Poturalski’s NHL audition. Third is the potential for a wild and entertaining game. For whatever reason, the combination of the Hurricanes and Islanders this season generates goals in bunches. Three previous match ups have yielded 37 total goals including a wild 8-4 win by the Hurricanes in Brooklyn.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Hurricanes versus the New York Islanders 1) Andrew Poturalski He did not play poorly on Tuesday night in his NHL by my estimation, but he did not stand out either. With a growing volume of capable and reasonably proven fringe AHL/NHL forwards, seizing the opportunity and impressing...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm79 @Min: Hurricanes face Wild on Staal 1,000 night

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm79 @Min: Hurricanes face Wild on Staal 1,000 night

With Ottawa’s shootout loss, the Hurricanes will enter their Tuesday game against the Minnesota Wild still technically in playoff contention. At this point the miracle would require the Hurricanes to win all 4 of their remaining games and 1 of Boston or Ottawa to lose all of their remaining games. Here is hoping that the Canes win Tuesday and leave someone else to do the deed if it must be done. Though not 100 percent finished with the 2016-17 season, the last 4 games also present more ice time to begin preparing for the 2017-18 season. Most notable in that regard will be the NHL debut of playmaking centerman Andrew Poturalski. The game could also feature the return of Bryan Bickell who was sidelined in the fall with multiple sclerosis and has made his way back playing for the Checkers in the AHL. If he plays on Tuesday, it will be a huge testament to his determination and another great people story to add to the rich list for the 2016-17 Carolina Hurricanes’ season. On the Minnesota side of ledger, the game will celebrate 1,000 games played for former Carolina Hurricanes’ captain Eric Staal. Despite the fact that he is across the country and in the other conference, Eric Staal continues to find his way back into Hurricanes’ circles. His run of staying healthy that enabled him to reach 1,000 games at the age of 32 is quite impressive. Consider that the 2016-17 season could be the eighth time that he has played in all 82 games and also has 2 seasons of 81 games. His low total is 70...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm78 @Pit: Canes quickly back on the horse versus Penguins

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm78 @Pit: Canes quickly back on the horse versus Penguins

After a disappointing loss and already playing 4 games this week, the Hurricanes get right back on the horse only about 19 hours after finishing up on Saturday. Such is the crazy March schedule with the World Cup delaying the start of the season and then ice melt chucking another game into the hectic schedule. No doubt, the Hurricanes 2016-17 season took a huge hit on Saturday with the Hurricanes’ loss and also the Bruins’ and Maple Leafs’ wins. I will be watching, or at least checking in, on the Bruins game at 12:30 against the Blackhawks to see if that game can re-crack the door open ever so slightly heading into Sunday night’s game. But regardless of the outcome of that game, the Canes might as well finish strong at this point. There are only 8 days remaining, the momentum that they are building has the potential to carry over to 2017-18 and the possible upgrade in draft order is minimal at this point. The Penguins are near the top of the NHL standings, are the defending Stanley Cup champions and are expected to contend again when the playoffs start in less than 2 weeks. But they are actually sputtering a bit right now. The Penguins come in with a very modest 1-2-2 record in their past 5 games and are trying to get healthy and right the ship before the playoffs start. Recent history would suggest that they are a beatable opponent.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Hurricanes versus the Pittsburgh Penguins 1) Rebound and recharge During the magnificent 13-game point streak that ended on Saturday...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm77 Vs. Dal: HUGE match up against Dallas……..wait for it….IN FREAKING APRIL!!!!

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm77 Vs. Dal: HUGE match up against Dallas……..wait for it….IN FREAKING APRIL!!!!

After winning an exhilarating game in comeback fashion against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, the Canes push forward to the next “biggest game of the season” with an important twist. This “biggest game of the season” is IN APRIL, and it hits a Saturday that should be phenomenal for tailgating.  All it takes is a win to create a newer and even bigger “biggest game of the season.” If you missed Thursday’s win, the game recap might just be worth a read after the fact. What jumps out at me after some time for the game to settle in is 2 things. First is the atmosphere at PNC Arena in the third period. That level of intensity has been sorely missed. Second is how well the Hurricanes who are young and were in unfamiliar territory held together in the third period and did not start gambling or trying to do too much in the wrong kind of desperation. But we have definitely reached the ‘what have you done for me lately?’ stage of the season, and the Hurricanes must quickly recharge and then refocus on the next game. On paper, Saturday should be easier than Thursday. Whereas Thursday’s opponent was the second best team in the entire NHL, Saturday’s opponent is a down on their luck Dallas Stars team that entered the season with high hopes but fell well short. The team has long been eliminated from playoff contention. But if the Hurricanes think they can punch their ticket forward to Sunday with another win because of the paper match up, Saturday will be a night of tough...