‘What I’m watching’ — Gm18 Vs. Ott: With urgency increasing, Canes again face Senators

‘What I’m watching’ — Gm18 Vs. Ott: With urgency increasing, Canes again face Senators

The Canes enter action on Monday two points below the playoff cut line (adjusted for games played) and toting a four-game losing streak. The gap is small enough that it is fair to claim that the team is right in the hunt, but after a 5-0 start, the team’s 4-7-1 record is obviously problematic. The urgency to turn things around is increasing game by game. In today’s Daily Cup of Joe, I offered two keys to building a solid foundation and trying to chart a course upward from there. But more than any long-term fixes, the Hurricanes just need to push through and find a way to get back into the win column to stop the bleeding. A home game against a team in the bottom half of the standings could help, but obviously Saturday’s loss to the same Senators shows that the schedule will not do the work. My watch points follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Ottawa Senators 1) Team defense Per my article today, arguably the biggest problem right now is the team’s struggles on defense. The volume of odd man rushes against right now is through the roof. That problem showed its ability to convert any kind of game into a loss. Last Thursday against the Rangers the Canes had the upper hand but gifted away a few grade A scoring chances on the way to losing 4-2 when they deserved much better. On Saturay, a horrid first period defensively more or less decided the game before the Canes could try to play their way into it. Regardless of effort...
‘What I’m watching’ — Gm17 @Ott: Canes aim for repeat in style/effort but with better result versus Ottawa

‘What I’m watching’ — Gm17 @Ott: Canes aim for repeat in style/effort but with better result versus Ottawa

Suddenly skidding down the hill and trying to dig their heels in after three straight losses, the Hurricanes face a struggling Ottawa Senators team that is 5-9-1 on the season. But if record entering the game was the deciding factor, the Hurricanes would have won the last three games. As I have harped about since the game (on Twitter, in my game recap and again in Friday’s Daily Cup of Joe), I really think Tuesday’s loss had as much to carry forward in terms of building a repeatable formula as any game this season despite the losing result. As such, I mostly wrote a preview for Saturday’s game calling it the most “intriguing” game so far this season. Will the Hurricanes rebound in the win column? Despite the losing result on Tuesday will the team realize that the effort was the right course such that they double down on determination, effort and intensity as a key part of their every game formula? At the same time, can the team clean up what has increasingly been an intermittent mess defensively on the blue line? The need for a win is great. The story lines are many. The drama is high. My specific watch points follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ style preview for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Ottawa Senators 1) A continuation (of most) of Tuesday My rough math says that 85 percent of what the Hurricanes did on Tuesday is every bit worth keeping. The team won the territorial battled, attacked on the forecheck and caused turnovers and then indiscriminately fired shots at the net. That was a huge...
‘What I’m watching’ — Gm16 Vs. NYR: Canes seek to start anew versus Rangers

‘What I’m watching’ — Gm16 Vs. NYR: Canes seek to start anew versus Rangers

After finishing October strong and heading into a favorable November scheduled, the Hurricanes are now 1-2 in the new month. With the goal of quickly reversing course and charting a path to a positive November, the team next has three straight against teams below them in the Eastern Conference standings. Up first is a home tilt against a New Rangers team that has a weird mix of veteran leadership and up and coming youth. The offense is led by newcomer Artemi Panarin and the defense by goalie Henrik Lundqvist, but the lineup also features 18-year old Kaapo Kakko and former Canes prospect Adam Fox. The Rangers enter at a respectable 6-6-1 and having won three out of their last four games, so anyone who chalks this up as an easy win is mistaken. The Hurricanes enter the game with an 0-4 mark against teams below them in the Metropolitan Division. Thursday would be a great time to start helping some of the lower teams in the division find a path out of the playoff chase. But more significant than the match up is the state of a Canes team that has won at a playoff pace thus far through 15 games but is only 4-5-1 since a 5-0 start and seems to be struggling to find an identity and repeatable formula right now. My watch points follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the New York Rangers 1) Cleaning up the messes What stands out to me most from the team’s recent struggles and in general with the lower points during the season is the lack...
‘What I’m watching’ — Gm15 @Phi: Canes seek to start new winning streak in Philadephia

‘What I’m watching’ — Gm15 @Phi: Canes seek to start new winning streak in Philadephia

The Canes enter NHL action on Tuesday with a mixed bag recently. The positive spin is that the team just won three out of four for a home stand. The negative spin is that the team lost its last game at home to a beatable New Jersey Devils squad. That brings two themes to a Tuesday match up against the Philadephia Flyers. First, the game represents a chance to cut short a losing streak at one. Being able to rebound quickly like that was integral to the team’s successful push up into the playoffs last winter and spring. The team has been decent at doing similar so far in 2019-20. After a 5-0 start the Hurricanes are a treading water 4-4-1. But over the course of a long NHL season, being able to tread water and avoid losing streaks is everything. The other theme is capitalizing on a friendly schedule in November. After a 8-3-1 October, the Hurricanes are 1-1 to start November. Tuesday represents an important chance to go positive and begin earning points above .500 for November. The opponent is a Flyers team that is a very respectable 6-5-2. The team seems to be at a crossroads with a decent core of veterans but maybe waiting on young goalie Carter Hart to emerge. Ideal would be for the Hurricanes to play a part in ushering them toward ‘next year’ if possible. My watch points follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Philadelphia Flyers 1) A better effort defensively A regular Achilles’ heel during the bad of the 4-4-1 stretch has been lack of...
‘What I’m watching’ — Gm14 Vs. NJ: Canes aim to close out home stand 4-0 versus the Devils

‘What I’m watching’ — Gm14 Vs. NJ: Canes aim to close out home stand 4-0 versus the Devils

What a time to be alive as a Canes fan. Hot on the heels of a tremendous 2019 NHL playoff run, the team just keeps serving up more goodness early in the 2019-20 season. The Storm Surge is back. Chicken sandwiches are free after seemingly every home game. And it is just fun time to be Canes fan. On Saturday, the Hurricanes seek to finish off a quick four-game home stand with four wins. And the opponent is another beatable team in the New Jersey Devils who are still trying to find the ignition switch for the 2019-20 season. But more than match ups, the Hurricanes just riding a good vibe right now. No doubt the team is playing well and earning its results, but there is also an element of everything just falling their way with officials challenges, caroms and whatever else it takes to pull out another W. Toss in tremendous fall weather for tailgating on a Saturday afternoon, and it is high time to be part of the Caniac Nation. My watch points for today’s game follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Detroit Red Wings 1) Back to a more repeatable formula The Red Wings arrived looking to play shinny and then opened things up even more once they were behind. The new look Hurricanes that suddenly seem to be full of goal scorers capitalized on opportunities and sprinted to a wild win. The team did manage to tighten thing up a bit in the third period, but in total Friday’s game was wide open. There is nothing wrong with winning...
‘What I’m watching’ — Gm13 Vs. Det: Schedule-friendly November begins against the Red Wings

‘What I’m watching’ — Gm13 Vs. Det: Schedule-friendly November begins against the Red Wings

With consecutive home wins, the Carolina Hurricanes closed out arguably the team’s strongest October in history. The 2019-20 season is still very young, but the team is very clearly on pace for the playoffs. The November schedule seems to offer tail winds in terms of maintaining that pace or even building a cushion. On October 23, I detailed the friendly stretch of schedule ahead.  The run of schedule up until Thanksgiving does feature a couple teams playing well in 2019-20, but none of the opponents made the playoffs in 2018-19. But NHL games are not decided based on place in the standings. They are decided on the ice. And on any given night in the NHL one team or more which is theoretically the better team will lose. So the theme for much of November will be that the Hurricanes are playing a game that they should win but that they need to show up and do the work to make that happen. Friday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings is exactly that. The Red Wings are on a bit of an upswing with a two-game point streak with an overtime loss against the Blues and a win over the Oilers. But prior to that the Wings had lost seven straight with five of those losses by three goals or more. My watch points for Friday’s match up follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Detroit Red Wings 1) Attack early The Red Wings should enter the game with more confidence than the team has had in multiple weeks. Ideal would be for the Hurricanes to...