‘What I’m watching’ — Gm69 @Clr: Canes playoff push continues against the Avalanche

‘What I’m watching’ — Gm69 @Clr: Canes playoff push continues against the Avalanche

After a hard-fought 1-1-1 record last week against three strong opponents, the Hurricanes kick off this week on the road against the Colorado Avalanche. The is the end of a short burst of three games in four days with two travel days and with three days off before the next game is clearly an ’empty the tank’ type of game. The Hurricanes enter the game sitting in the first of two wild card slots in the Eastern Conference and with the potential to jump back into a tie with the Penguins for third place in the Metropolitan Division. Needless to say, every game is critically important right now. The opponent is a Colorado Avalanche team that despite having nine fewer points than the Hurricanes is still very much in the playoff chase at only two points out of a wildcard spot. The Avs are only 2-3 in the team’s last five games and are now without Gabriel Landeskog. As such, the Avs should be a team desperate for a win much like the Canes and every other team still in playoff contention. On the Hurricanes side, the game is mostly about bringing the right level of effort and intensity. The team has generally been doing that for more than two months now, but received a stark reminder in Friday’s 8-1 loss of what can happen if the team does not dial up the intensity level. Saturday was a solid rebound and a win, so here is hoping that Friday was just a one-game blip. My watch points follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Colorado...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm68 @Nas: After lopsided loss, Canes seek quick rebound versus the Predators

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm68 @Nas: After lopsided loss, Canes seek quick rebound versus the Predators

After a brutal 8-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night in Raleigh, the Hurricanes will get right back on the horse on Saturday and face another best from the West in the Nashville Predators. With a Columbus loss on Thursday and Montreal losses on both Thursday and Friday, the Hurricanes are actually holding their place in the playoff standings despite an 0-1-1 mark so far this week. But the magnitude of Saturday’s game is greater coming off the kind of loss that Friday’s was. Unfortunately, the opponent is another tough one in the Nashville Predators who also are a potential Cup contender. The Predators are a solid hockey team with depth both at forward and on defense. On the Hurricanes side, the team needs to quickly either tighten up significantly on defense or refind the forecheck that minimizes the volume of time playing defense. And after an 8-1 loss on Friday, the team might also need to fight off some demons and self-doubt issues early on to play their way into this game. My watch points for the game follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Nashville Predators 1) Angry determination? Or passive self-doubt? The key for the Hurricanes is mostly putting Friday’s debacle behind them and using whatever of it carries forward to put a bee in their bonnets for Saturday. If the Hurricanes spend half of a game fighting their way through self-doubt and look hesitant doing so, the game could be over when they arrive. Rod Brind’Amour, Justin Williams and the rest of the leadership has a bit of work...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm67 Vs. Wpg: Difficult stretch of schedule continues with Jets at home

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm67 Vs. Wpg: Difficult stretch of schedule continues with Jets at home

Tuesday’s game in Boston was a mixed bag. On the positive side, the Hurricanes overcame a third period deficit and picked up a point against a team that has not lost in regulation in 17 games. On the negative side, the Hurricanes blew a two-goal lead and lost a point in the process. I actually think whether Tuesday was a positive or a negative hinges on the rest of the week. If the Hurricanes lose to Winnipeg and Nashville, Tuesday could be seen as the start of a losing streak and a much-needed point that got away. If the Hurricanes are productive in the upcoming back-to-back, then I think Tuesday gets categorized as a solid road point. That determination starts with a game Friday at PNC Arena against the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets are one of the teams in the Western Conference who figure to have legitimate Stanley Cup hopes. But the Jets come into the game sputtering a bit with only a 4-5-1 mark in their past 10 games. On the Hurricanes side, the team now has points in five straight games and an 8-1-1 record in their past 10 games. With another strong opponent, the Hurricanes need to tidy up their attention to detail and rebound on special teams to keep the good and improve the bad from Tuesday’s overtime loss. My watch points follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Winnipeg Jets 1) Greater attention to detail Against a Boston Bruins team that is among the best in the league right now, the Hurricanes showed they could not only hang with them...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm66 @Bos: Tough stretch of March schedule starts in Boston

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm66 @Bos: Tough stretch of March schedule starts in Boston

After a couple days to recharge, the Hurricanes start an odd stretch of schedule that has a good number of off days but also sets of back-to-backs and primarily playoff caliber opponents. The remaining schedule was the subject of today’s Daily Cup of Joe. The current five-game winning streak coupled with some favorable scoreboard watching has the Hurricanes above the playoff cut line entering action on Tuesday. The Hurricanes are currently third in the Metropolitan Division and are up one point on Penguins, one point with a game in hand on the Canadiens and a big three points over Columbus. Needing to beat only one of those teams to make the playoffs, the gap is the three over Columbus. But the order of the day is simply to keep winning. Tuesday represents a good challenge in that regard against a Bruins team that is firmly in playoff position and has a massive 16-game point streak (12-0-4) coming into the game. But the Hurricanes are a good hockey team too and of late have a seemingly magical ability to just find a way to win regardless of the course to get there. The Canes will almost certainly need an effort better than Saturday’s lackluster affair in Florida on Saturday, but perhaps some of the same cape-wearing heroics will be a necessary carry over. My watch points for Tuesday’s game are here.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Boston Bruins 1) A much higher gear As much fun as the ending and related highlights were for Saturday’s win, the game in total was an absolute clunker and...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm65 @Fla: Canes ride 4-game winning streak into Florida

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm65 @Fla: Canes ride 4-game winning streak into Florida

On the heels of another solid win over a good hockey team at PNC Arena on Friday night, the Carolina Hurricanes are right back on the ice Saturday night against the Florida Panthers. The game is the first of four straight sets of back-to-back games (so roughly 40 percent of the last quarter of the season) on the weekend in March, so being able to play well, travel, rebound quickly and do it again will be important down the stretch. The opponent is a Florida Panthers team that is on the outside looking on the playoff chase. But right now, the focus for the Hurricanes is simply to keep doing what they have been doing for some time now. My watch points for Saturday’s game follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Florida Panthers 1) The battle of Finland’s best In total, Florida has struggled to find a higher gear this year, but like many teams that does not mean that they are without talent. The Panthers top line led by Finnish center Aleksander Barkov is a very good one. In the teams’ last match up Barkov and company burst out for three quick goals in the second period when the Hurricanes ever so briefly paused after building a two-goal lead. Aho’s line also chimed in on the score sheet that game courtesy of Justin Williams’ face and a power play game-winner late. In that game, Florida chose to play best against best much of the night. If that happens again on Saturday, who wins between Aho and Barkov could well determine who wins the...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm64 Vs. StL: Canes face rising Blues aiming to keep pace in playoff chase

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm64 Vs. StL: Canes face rising Blues aiming to keep pace in playoff chase

On Thursday night, Columbus squeaked out an overtime win against the Flyers. The win boosted them back to one point ahead of Carolina and Pittsburgh with each team having played the same 63 games. From here out, it is pretty much a white knuckler from game to game. But the Hurricanes are handling it well right now. The team finished up February with an impressive 10-3 mark and current possesses a three-game winning streak. Right now, the Canes are riding momentum that saw them win a week or so ago almost exclusively because of goaltending. But the two most recent wins were much more impressive and well-rounded. First, the Hurricanes beat a good Dallas Stars team on the road. Then, the Hurricanes dismantled a beleaguered Los Angeles Kings team. With completely different challenges, the Hurricanes met the challenge in both cases. Timing for dialing up the quality level of all-around play is well-timed with a difficult March schedule kicking off on Friday night. The first in a tough month of games is a St. Louis Blues team that is surging right now. The team that seemed on the brink of blowing things up in the fall have righted the ship and is playing well right now. The Blues are only 2-2 in their last four games but prior to that had won 11 straight. The game is the first of many against good teams, and the Hurricanes could be short on the blue line (see watch points below).   ‘What I’m watching’ style preview for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the St. Louis Blues 1) Injuries on the blue line...