‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm39 Vs. Was: 2018 kicks off with Washington Capitals to start a challenging stretch of schedule

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm39 Vs. Was: 2018 kicks off with Washington Capitals to start a challenging stretch of schedule

On Monday, I broke down most of the next two months of schedule. Tuesday’s home match up against the Washington Capitals is the second of eight games against higher-end competition. The Canes see the division-leading Caps three times in 11 days and also face-off against the division-leading Lightning, the defending champion Pens and the Bruins before finishing up against the Flames. A theme in Monday’s article and also a few Canes-centric conversations in the past few days is “not giving back” what was gained in December. The Hurricanes do not need to push up into a playoff slot in the next two weeks, but as the season progresses, they cannot afford to continuously do one step forward followed by one step back. Last March’s impressive surge that was still not enough shows just how hard it is to make up ground during the late-season grind that is March and April. So based on that, I think Tuesday’s game against the Washington Capitals is bigger than most might think. A win very quickly cuts short a losing streak at a single game, nets an early home win early in the challenging stretch of schedule and also sets a precedent for what the team must do to beat good hockey teams over the next couple weeks. Against that backdrop, here is my watch list for tonight’s game…   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Washington Capitals 1) Urgency and intensity Of late, the young Hurricanes team has shown a greater ability to push and push and push more to make productive nights when things do not come easy....
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm38 @StL: Canes head to St. Louis seeking perfect 3-0 holiday week

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm38 @StL: Canes head to St. Louis seeking perfect 3-0 holiday week

With Friday’s 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Hurricanes are already assured a successful holiday week with a minimum 2-1 record. But still starting Saturday one point out of a playoff spot (tied if you adjust for games played), now is the time to ride momentum not take a deep breath and let off the gas. A key element in many playoff runs is an extended winning run when things are going well such that when the season inevitably hits another tough stretch, there is some margin for error. The St. Louis Blues come into the game firmly in a playoff spot in the Western Conference but also sputtering a bit with a 3-7 record in their past 10 games. The Blues bring a decent amount of the heavy Western Conference game that has at times knocked the Hurricanes off stride. But with the run of four straight wins, this game is not about the opponent but rather just continuing on the current path for the Hurricanes.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the St. Louis Blues 1) Scott Darling If Scott Darling receives his first start since the debacle in Toronto on December 19, the game is also an important one in terms of the path forward at the goalie position. Cam Ward has taken the reins as the starter for the time being and he should be fresh physically from playing the first couple months of the season as a backup, but at a minimum Darling must be able to spell Ward and give the team a chance to earn points in those...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm37 Vs. Pit: Canes aim to continue winning ways and hold Penguins down in the process

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm37 Vs. Pit: Canes aim to continue winning ways and hold Penguins down in the process

After a disappointing three-game Thanksgiving home stand that saw the Hurricanes and the team’s fans suffer tough losses to the Rangers and Leafs before salvaging something with a Sunday win against the Predators, the NHL schedule gifted the Hurricanes with a second try with three home games during Christmas week. Thus far, the second try is going much better with two wins heading into a Friday match up against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens game is the first of two in a back-to-back set. Despite being the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Pens enter the game sputtering a bit. Pittsburgh enters the game tied with the Hurricanes with 41 points but has also played two more games. My math has them two points behind the Hurricanes when adjusting for games played. In addition, the Penguins are only 4-6 in their past 10 games, so the game interestingly represents a chance to push down a team that is surprisingly below the Hurricanes right now. As of right now, the Penguins are very much one of the teams that the Hurricanes are battling for a playoff spot which makes this a big four-point game. But with the Hurricanes playing well and being rewarded for it right now, the focus for Friday’s game is less about the opponent and more about just continuing on the winning path. To stay on this path, the Hurricanes need to keep doing what they have been and maybe clean up a few small things to continue the winning ways.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Pittsburgh Penguins 1) The same pace and...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm36 Vs. Mon: Canes look for continuation against the Canadiens coming out of the holiday break

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm36 Vs. Mon: Canes look for continuation against the Canadiens coming out of the holiday break

With a solid 4-2 win over the Sabres before the three-day NHL break for Christmas, the current holiday week home stand is off to a better start than the Thanksgiving week that ended 1-2. But there is still work to be done, and that work starts with a Wednesday match up against the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens come in as a middle-ish team at exactly .500 that has had at least as many struggles as successes thus far in the 2017-18 season. Montreal has been slightly better of late with a 5-4-1 record in the past 10 games, but they still set up as a beatable team on home ice. But right now with the Hurricanes playing pretty well and being justly rewarded for their play, Wednesday’s game is more about the Hurricanes just continuing on the current track without being upset by the non-routine schedule this time of year.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Montreal Canadiens 1) Pace, intensity and attention to detail especially early Hockey players are creatures of habit. Most players have a fairly set routine that they go through in preparation for a game that gets them into the right mindset just in time for the opening face-off. Just like with everyone else, most routines are disrupted (in a good way) during the holidays with relatives in town, holiday festivities and everything else. In addition, the team has also been away from practice for three days which happens only twice (the All-Star game is the other time) during the season. In some ways, I think there is an advantage to...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm35 Vs. Buf: Canes kick off 2nd home holiday week run against the Sabres

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm35 Vs. Buf: Canes kick off 2nd home holiday week run against the Sabres

Quick heads up on holiday week schedule at Canes and Coffee: –I might/might not get to watch part or all of Saturday’s Canes game live which means there might/might not be the usual recap. At a minimum, I will put up an article such that those who watch the game can chime in with their observations (which are my favorite thing the day after every Canes game). –Tentative plan is to the resume regular Canes coverage including the Daily Cup of Joe on either Tuesday or Wednesday. –I wish those who celebrate Christmas a blessed and special day, and I also wish those who not a joyous holiday season, enjoyable time with family and a Happy New Year!   With the Hurricanes North American road trip for December completed with a respectable 5-4 record in nine games with eight on the road, the team will now try to capitalize on home ice during the holiday week. Round 1 of this game went badly during Thanksgiving week. The team played horribly in a 5-1 loss to the Rangers before Thanksgiving and had a second period implosion lead to a loss to the Maple Leafs after Thanksgiving. The team did salvage two points in a home win over the Predators on Sunday that week, but by that point, the week was already a negative in terms of point production and also leaving loyal Caniacs who attended all three games mostly disappointed. The game against Buffalo is the first of three home games again during the holiday week with a Wednesday game against Montreal and a divisional game against Pittsburgh on Friday....
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm34 @Nas: #CanesCoaster again seeks rebound against Nashville Predators

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm34 @Nas: #CanesCoaster again seeks rebound against Nashville Predators

After a brutal 8-1 loss in Toronto on Tuesday, the Hurricanes will look to right the ship in Nashville against the Predators on Thursday night. Interestingly, the game marks the second time in a couple weeks that the Hurricanes square off against Predators seeking to change their fortunes after a rough patch that included a loss to the Maple Leafs. On the Sunday ending Thanksgiving week, the Hurricanes pulled out a much-needed win after losing two straight at home sandwiched around Thanksgiving day. After Tuesday’s game, the watch points are focused solely inward…   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Nashville Predators 1) A response After a humiliating loss like Tuesday’s, the bare minimum is to respond in terms of effort, intensity and desire. If the Hurricanes cannot even muster that, it is time for serious soul searching both within the player leadership and coaching ranks. Giving credit where it is due, the team did show resiliency and the ability to stick with it during the challenging western road trip, so I am expecting similar on Thursday night. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe shows that even good teams have games like Tuesday’s but also that they tend to overwhelmingly respond with a win in the next game. Can the Hurricanes do similar on Thursday night?   2) Cam Ward As of writing this, I have not seen an official announcement as to the Hurricanes starting goalie for Thursday, but I will be shocked if Ward does not get the nod. If Cam Ward is going to have a resurgence as a Canes netminder, I think now...