‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm12 Vs. Bos: Canes aim for plus home stand in finale against the Bruins

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm12 Vs. Bos: Canes aim for plus home stand in finale against the Bruins

After following up a good win on Friday with a loss on Sunday, the Hurricanes three-game home stand is at 1-1 entering Tuesday’s finale against the Boston Bruins. With a win, the Hurricanes meet the two-thirds pace required at home for my playoff hockey formula. With a regulation loss, the stretch is a disappointing 1-2. The series of these small situations is what ultimately defines the long NHL season. The opponent is a tough one in the Boston Bruins. The Bruins come in at 6-3-2 and in the thick of a heated race in the Atlantic Division. The game looks a little like the Colorado Avalanche match up in that the Bruins have one of the juggernaut first lines in the league in Marchand/Bergeron/Pastrnak. Against Colorado MacKinnon’s won the day, and the Avalanche won the game. My watch points for today’s game follow…   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Boston Bruins 1) Marchand/Bergeron/Pastrnak versus Foegele/Staal/Williams As noted above, the Hurricanes did not fare well when faced against a similarly powerful line against the Avalanche and in general have struggled against teams with high-end scoring in losing to the Lightning and Jets. (San Jose would also qualify, and the Hurricanes did win that one.) Is it possible that the Hurricanes match up better against teams that are more balanced and less top-heavy and struggle against teams with top-end talent? That is worth watching with a division schedule featuring a bunch of games against Pittsburgh, Washington and Philadelphia that lies ahead. So on Tuesday I will be watching to see if Staal’s line can slow Bergeron’s and...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm11 Vs. NYI: Canes aim to close out perfect week versus Isles

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm11 Vs. NYI: Canes aim to close out perfect week versus Isles

I was away for the weekend for a youth group retreat, so I will just be starting to catch up with Canes hockey at 5pm when the puck drops versus the Islanders. With only a superficial understanding of the 4-3 shootout win on Friday, here is my short ‘what I’m watching’ list from that angle.   1) Petr Mrazek Mrazek allowed three goals on 20 shots on Friday but seemingly earned another start in doing so. This is yet another example of at least simple numbers not lining up exactly with the bigger. It is no secret that the Canes need to find something goaltending-wise, so I am on board with a goalie trying to wrap up a 3-0 week.   2) Broader scoring base What jumps out at me glancing at Friday’s box score is that the three goals were scored by players who were maybe pressing for a goal a bit. Teravainen’s was his first not counting an empty-netter. McGinn’s was also his first. And so was Hamilton’s. So that helps three players get the monkey off their back. On Sunday, I will be watching to see if the players who scored on Friday can use it for momentum and also if others join them.   3) Just in baby Collecting points in October is critical regardless of formula. With a win, the Hurricanes would complete a 3-0 week and also push up to an impressive 7-3-1. Any kind of win on Sunday would be a good win.   The puck drops at 5:07pm at PNC Arena.   Go...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm10 Vs. SJ: Brind’Amour hockey faces challenge against the Sharks

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm10 Vs. SJ: Brind’Amour hockey faces challenge against the Sharks

Thus far, the engine for the Hurricanes early 5-3-1 success has been the team’s aggressive, puck-hounding style of play in all three zones. Brind’Amour hockey as I call it just attacks and to some degree dares teams to try to beat them two or three times to get behind the barrage, through the neutral zone and into a situation where they finally have numbers. Thus far, good teams like Winnipeg and Tampa Bay have had some success but no one has truly dismantled it yet. But if I was going to draw up a template for a team likely to exploit the Hurricanes forward-leaning forecheck, San Jose would probably be the model. The Sharks have experienced and talented defensemen on the back end who will not wither under pressure. And they similar have forwards who can capitalize if given the chance off the rush. As such, I see San Jose as an incredibly interesting match up. If the Sharks do dismantle the Hurricane forecheck and forward-leaning neutral zone play, I will mostly just shrug, as I consider the team a unique case. If on the other hand, the Hurricanes style of play holds up well against the Sharks, that would be a strong indication that on a good day no one is immune to wrath that Brind’Amour hockey can bring on a good day. Aside from the interesting match up, the game is more simply another important shot at two points. The Hurricanes cut a losing streak fairly short at three games and will look to get off on the right foot in the first of three game at...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm9 @Det: Canes look to halt losing streak against the Red Wings

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm9 @Det: Canes look to halt losing streak against the Red Wings

In addition to the Hurricanes game tonight, Monday is also a big night for local hockey. The Backyard Brawl returns to PNC Arena tonight with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Tar Heels taking on the North Carolina State Icepack. The preview for the local hockey spectacular is HERE.   After fun 4-0-1 start, the Carolina Hurricanes have hit the first skid of the year. The team’s losing streak now stands at three games and the team’s record at more of a good but middling 4-3-1. After two tough road match ups with travel spanning most of North America between then and then another try at home on Saturday, the Red Wings offer the next chance to get back into the winning column. At first glance, the Red Wings and their 1-5-2 record look to be a well-timed gift, but deeper inspection suggests maybe not as much as one might hope. After a slow start, the Wings are trending upward with their first win in overtime against the Florida Panthers on Saturday. But more so than the opponent, right now is about the Hurricanes trying to keep a couple things that have been very good (even strength play and the aggressive skating style) but at the same time rectify some problems (horrid special teams play and the usual goaltending struggles). Against that back drop, here are my watch points for Monday’s game.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Detroit Red Wings 1) Special teams The team’s league worst power play and penalty kill were the subject of today’s Daily Cup of Joe. Read HERE if...
Game preview for 2018 Backyard Brawl: Carolina Hockey vs. the NC State Icepack

Game preview for 2018 Backyard Brawl: Carolina Hockey vs. the NC State Icepack

That time of year is here and earlier than usual compared to recent years. On Monday night at PNC Arena, local hockey takes center stage as the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill takes on North Carolina State in men’s hockey. The ‘Backyard Brawl’ as it was termed a few years back has always been a great showcase of local hockey and a fun event that brings the competitive local sports rivalry onto the ice.   Details When: 7pm on Monday, October 22 Where: PNC Arena Cost: Parking is free and admission is only a modest donation at the door (no advance tickets required)   Game preview — The NC State side Thank you to Zak Selwaeh for providing an update for the NC State side. Preview provided by Zak Selwaeh Zak Selwaeh (Twitter=@TheOfficialZMP) is currently the Play by Play Broadcaster for NC State Hockey after traveling with the team last season as the Color Analyst. Zak is a huge fan of hockey and his favorite team is the Carolina Hurricanes. Zak also stays up to date with the latest happenings across the NHL. Aside from hockey, Zak spends time playing guitar and writing/recording/producing his own music and also may have a slight obsession with freshly baked pita bread and hummus.   North Carolina State Icepack preview Canes and Coffee: How has the North Carolina State hockey team started the 2018-19 season? Zak Selwaeh: State has had by far and away their best start in the past several seasons. The team is currently 7-0, is ranked at the top of the Carolina East Division, and is second in the league...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm8 Vs. Clr: Canes seek NC State Fair combo to get back in winning column

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm8 Vs. Clr: Canes seek NC State Fair combo to get back in winning column

After a tough three-game road trip that saw the team first head west to take on two good teams and then traverse North America from north and west to south and east, the Hurricanes return home to Raleigh to play its first game during the North Carolina State Fair since a horrific traffic and parking similar event years back. Outside the arena, here is hoping that the early 1pm start makes for safe travels. Inside the arena, the Hurricanes will look to cut a losing streak short at two games and also build on a solid 4-2-1 start. The opponent is a Colorado Avalanche team that is also off to a strong start at 4-1-2. My watch points for Saturday’s 1pm matinee are as follows:   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Colorado Avalanche 1) Same pace and intensity after the short layoff After a return home, three days of home cooking and hopefully not too much North Carolina State Fair food, the Carolina will look to start what I will call the third phase of the 2018-19 season positively on Saturday afternoon against the Colorado Avalanche. Though the team seemed to hit a wall a bit in the second half of Tuesday’s loss (notably against a good team), the foundation of the Hurricanes style and success in the early going has been an aggressive, attacking style of play that dictates play, disrupts the opponent before they really get started and in the process tilts the ice into the offensive zone. On Saturday, I will be watching closely to see if the Hurricanes look rejuvenated and...