‘What I’m watching’ — Gm68 @Det: Canes seek to extend winning weekend against the Red Wings

‘What I’m watching’ — Gm68 @Det: Canes seek to extend winning weekend against the Red Wings

After a fun weekend with another storybook win courtesy of Morgan Geekie on Sunday over the Penguins, the Hurricanes return to the ice on Tuesday night in Detroit for game four of five for the road trip. The two wins see the Hurricanes enter the game tied for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference but still very much in a crowded pack that will likely see three teams come within a couple points of a playoff spot but get sent packing at the end of the regular season. The opponent is a Red Wings team that looks like an easy win on paper. The Wings are the bottom team in the NHL by a MASSIVE 23 points and have long been playing for draft lottery position. But in a league where parity reigns supreme, one need look no further than the Wings last two games that include wins over Cup contender Tampa Bay and a Chicago team that is trying to play its way into the playoff hunt. In the NHL, if you do not show up and put forward a strong effort nasty surprises linger. On the Hurricanes side, this game is about continuing the current trajectory. Only two weeks ago, the Hurricanes posted a rousing, feel-good win with an emergency goalie only to fall flat with four straight losses. Aside from the utter debacle in terms of taking penalties (six in the first half of the game) which was buried underneath the win, the Hurricanes put forward their best 5-on-5 effort in some time. The goal Tuesday is to find that same gear. If the...
‘What I’m watching’ — Gm67 @Pit: Late-season Pens series starts with Sunday matinee

‘What I’m watching’ — Gm67 @Pit: Late-season Pens series starts with Sunday matinee

In a fit of odd scheduling, the Hurricanes will play their first of four games against the Pittsburgh Penguins for game #67 of the 2019-20 season. With nearly 25 percent of the Hurricanes remaining schedule against the Pens, how the Hurricanes fare in the season series could play a significant role in whether the Hurricanes see post-season action. The Penguins are yet another team in the playoff picture but struggling a bit right now having lost seven out their last nine games including a 5-2 thrashing at the hands of the Capitals on Saturday. After playing much of the season with a makeshift lineup due to injuries, the Penguins are somewhat healthier but struggling right now to put things together. On the Hurricanes side, the game is about trying to build on Saturday’s win. That win was not the prettiest, but it still has the potential to put a stake in the sand. My watch points follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Caroling Hurricanes versus the Pittsburgh Penguins 1) The match up With three more tilts for these teams scheduled, I will be curious to see how the teams match up. Last season, the Hurricanes looked good against the Penguins who struggled at times against the aggressive forecheck. But the Hurricanes are a different team in 2019-20 that is not so much driven by the forecheck. On Sunday, I will be watching to see if one team seems to have the upper hand in terms of style of play.   2) Goaltending Anton Forsberg was solid in a win on Saturday. Petr Mrazek has been in net for...
‘What I’m watching’ — Gm66 @NYI: Battle of the recently beaten versus the Islanders

‘What I’m watching’ — Gm66 @NYI: Battle of the recently beaten versus the Islanders

The Hurricanes enter the game with a four-game losing streak (0-3-1) and trying to make up three points to climb into the last wild card spot. The Islanders enter the game with a five-game losing streak (0-3-2) and the the team three points up that the Hurricanes are chasing. With only 17 games remaining in the 2019-20 NHL regular season, the game is a HUGE one. One team will stop the bleeding and at least take a step in the direction of righting the ship and will go be plus two points for the day against another team fighting for the same playoff spot. The other team will go a step deeper into its potentially catastrophic late-season slide. My watch points follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the New York Islanders 1) Fire in the belly…especially out of the gate For me, the most disappointing things about the Hurricanes recent struggles has been the team’s inability to muster much for energy, determination and whatever else you want to call it. The team mustered a phenomenal, united, ‘whatever it takes to win’ kind of effort in front of a goalie off the street a couple weeks back and has not won since. An all too familiar component of almost all of the Hurricanes’ losses of late has been lackluster and unenergetic starts. The team has been constantly trying to climb out of an early hole which is tough sledding. Subject to change quickly with even a single good win, but I feel like the team is quickly approaching the fork in the road where it digs...
‘What I’m watching’ — Gm65 @Phi: Metro-heavy road trip starts in Philadelphia

‘What I’m watching’ — Gm65 @Phi: Metro-heavy road trip starts in Philadelphia

After an 0-2-1 mark last week and four days off to reset and recharge for a busy stretch run, the Hurricanes are back on the ice in Philadelphia to start a five-game road trip. With only 18 games remaining and the Hurricanes on the outside looking in, righting the ship after a tough week last week and having at least a treading water road trip is obviously critical to the team’s playoff hopes. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe asked and tried to answer, “What does it take?” to make the playoffs. That starts in earnest tonight. The opponent is a tough one. Right now, the teams could not be more opposite in terms of trajectory. The Flyers have won seven straight including an impressive 5-2 win over the division-leading Capitals last night, consecutive wins over the Rangers who were red hot prior and two more wins over the Blue Jackets who are also in the Metropolitan Division playoff picture. The Flyers are suddenly a point out of the top spot in the division. The hope for the Canes is that the Flyers are a bit tired from playing last night and/or have a bit of a letdown after the big win over the Capitals. But the bigger thing right now is for the Hurricanes to regroup after losing three players to injuries and two to trades and added three via trade and two from AHL call up. Unfortunately, the timing is such that the team needs to refigure things out and find a higher gear quickly to stay in the playoff hunt. My watch points follow.   ‘What I’m...
‘What I’m watching’ — Gm64 @Mon: Canes seek to salvage weekend in 2nd half of back-to-back versus Canadiens

‘What I’m watching’ — Gm64 @Mon: Canes seek to salvage weekend in 2nd half of back-to-back versus Canadiens

For the second weekend in a row, the Hurricanes lost the first half of a back-to-back at home and will need to win on the road to salvage a split for the weekend. The trend is significant since the Hurricanes play a back-to-back every weekend for the rest of the 2019-20 season. As far as losses go, Friday’s was not horrible. The Hurricanes generally played well, seemed to catch nothing for breaks but still clawed back to tie the game in the third period. If one wanted to find a negative, the 0 points result is front and center, and the Canes were again bitten hard by a few defensive break downs. But this is the time of year to have a short memory and look forward. The Hurricanes are still right in the thick of the playoff hunt only two points out of the last wild card slot with three games in hand. And a win on Saturday cuts a losing streak short at two games and also sees the team with four off days to practice with the new personnel and get a few injured players closer to returning. My watch points follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Montreal Canadiens 1) The top line Offensively, the trio of Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen were lights out on Friday. Teravainen netted two goals, and the group could easily have had more. Svechnikov clanged a pipe, and Aho had a puck squibble just wide of the net. And Teravainen had at least two other good chances not counting mishandling a puck that...
‘What I’m watching’ — Gm63 Vs. Clr: Second try for new look Canes comes against Avalanche

‘What I’m watching’ — Gm63 Vs. Clr: Second try for new look Canes comes against Avalanche

After a 4-1 loss the day after the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline, the Hurricanes have had a couple days to practice with the group that includes two trade additions (with Sami Vatanen still incoming once he returns from injury) and also two AHL call up goalies. With the Rangers surging from below,  the Canes now looking up at the playoff cut line and only 20 games remaining, urgency is increasing. ‘Must win’ is an overstatement at this early juncture of the stretch run, but I do think the Hurricanes need to win at least one of the weekend back-to-back set to avoid a bout with adversity and a ratcheting up of urgency. After Saturday’s game, the Hurricanes have an odd four-day layoff which could be well-timed for some systems work with the new players and if needed to buy time for Mrazek or Reimer to recover from injury. But in the last quarter of the NHL season for teams at the playoff cut line, it is very much about the here and now. The here and now is a tough match up against a Colorado Avalanche team that is surging with four straight wins in trying to catch the Blues for the top record in the Western Conference. The Avalanche boast speed, skill and depth on offense which makes for a tough out for a Canes team that is trying to sort things out defensively after two key injuries on the blue line and two more in goal. On the Hurricanes side of the ledger, today’s game is equal parts trying to figure out the new lineup quickly and...