‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm43 @Tam: Canes tote 5-game winning streak into massive test against Lightning

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm43 @Tam: Canes tote 5-game winning streak into massive test against Lightning

After a tough December, the Hurricanes used New Year’s Eve to start fresh in the new year. The result has been an impressive five-game winning streak that capitalized on friendly match ups versus the Flyers twice and the Senators but also included two wins over strong opponents in the Blue Jackets and the Islanders. On Thursday, the winning streak will be put to the test against the best in the NHL right now in a road match up against the Lightning. I view this game as an opportunity to make up for one of the too many losses in December by winning or even collecting an overtime loss point in a game that figured to be a loss on paper. From the Hurricanes side, the team mostly just needs to keep doing what it has been doing which is attacking offensively across more lines, being decent or better defensively and receiving strong netminding. If the team does that for a full 60 minutes, it has a chance despite the opponent.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Tampa Bay Lightning 1) The start and a full 60 minutes One minor flaw with the Hurricanes streak is the tendency to have lapses in terms of intensity even in overall strong efforts. The team has had a few games in which they took the foot off the pedal and let teams back in it. Though the starts have been better in the past few, the early wins also featured sluggish starts. Against a Lightning team that can strike quickly, I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm42 @NYI: Canes seek to extend winning streak into new week against tougher competition in Isles

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm42 @NYI: Canes seek to extend winning streak into new week against tougher competition in Isles

After a perfect 4-0 week last week, the Hurricanes start a week of tougher competition against the Islanders. Whereas last week two of the wins came against the Flyers who are currently riding a seven-game losing streak and another win came against another division bottom dweller in the Senators, the stretch of games ahead dials up the level of competition. And the starting point is an Islanders team that has been a tough match up for the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes are already 0-2-1 against the Islanders and have scored only a single goal in each of the three losses against a stingy Barry Trotz-coached defense. The game kicks off a challenging week against four good teams and will provide a quick measure of whether the Hurricanes have truly found a higher gear or whether they just benefited from a soft patch of schedule last week. Even with the winning streak the Hurricanes still have a sizable gap of six points (adjusted for games played) to reach the playoff cut time. If the Hurricanes are going to push back up into the playoff chase, the upcoming stretch of games to start the second half of the season is critical. Against that backdrop here are my watch points for Tuesday’s game.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the New York Islanders 1) Sound play from wire to wire A couple of the Canes recent wins have featured surges that propelled the team to victory and maybe overshadowed a few pauses in intensity level. Against an Islanders team that is perfectly comfortable playing a tight game and collecting enough...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm41 @Ott: Canes aim for fourth straight win in matinee against Ottawa

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm41 @Ott: Canes aim for fourth straight win in matinee against Ottawa

Finishing a quick run of three games in less than four days, the Hurricanes take on the Ottawa Senators at 1pm on Sunday. The presents the chance to finish out a perfect 4-0 week and climb back to two games above .500 after falling two games below last week. Most importantly, still a ways back of the playoff cut line, the Canes desperately need to put together an extended run of wins. After beating a quality opponent in Columbus on Friday, the Hurricanes face an Ottawa team that is near the bottom of the NHL and comes in with six straight losses. In addition, Ottawa also plays on Saturday afternoon, so the Canes should be the more rested team despite the busy weekend. From the Hurricanes side, the game is mostly about not taking a breath and just repeating what has generally been a strong trend. My watch points for Sunday follow:   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Ottawa Senators 1) Repeat of the strong start Especially with the odd start time and the busy stretch, the start could be critical. When the Hurricanes push and score early, they look like a completely different team. I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes an repeat the strong start on Friday.   2) More contributions from the depth forwards offensively On Friday, Greg McKegg had a phenomenal 2018-19 NHL debut and was a catalyst for a fourth line that was strong. Others also had strong games in a game where the Hurricanes were balanced instead of top-heavy. With the goaltending and defense routinely holding up its...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm40 Vs. Clu: Canes look to extend streak against better competition in the Blue Jackets

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm40 Vs. Clu: Canes look to extend streak against better competition in the Blue Jackets

With consecutive wins over the struggling Philadelphia Flyers, the Carolina Hurricanes are tracking toward a winning week for the first time since Thanksgiving week. On Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Canes will try to reach a perfect 3-0 and also extend the current run against better competition. It takes only an OTL point either Friday or on Sunday versus Ottawa to finally push above hockey .500 for a week of hockey. And that to me is the story of Friday’s game. The Hurricanes get a chance to build on a winning streak, and they also get the chance to prove they can win against a good hockey team. The situation is not ideal in that the Hurricanes played and traveled on Thursday while Columbus was resting in Raleigh, but suddenly nine points out of a playoff spot, the Hurricanes will need to collect a win here and there that maybe was not expected and that extends a streak. My watch points for Friday are as follows:   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Columbus Blue Jackets 1) Pace out of the gate Buried underneath a couple wins is the fact that the Hurricanes started slowly in each of their past few games. Good goaltending, generally sluggish play by both teams and perhaps level of competition enabled the Hurricanes to stay in both games until they found a higher gear. That is a risky formula against better teams like Columbus, so on Friday I will be watching to see if the Canes can find the ignition switch when the opening face-off happens.   2) Winning...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm39 @Phi: Canes start 2019 with rematch against the Philadephia Flyers

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm39 @Phi: Canes start 2019 with rematch against the Philadephia Flyers

After another fun holiday win on New Year’s Eve, the Hurricanes had another short break before playing its first game in 2019. The game is a rematch against the Flyers on Thursday night in Philadelphia. Though the game is not a true back-to-back since the Flyers played on Tuesday, the teams should be familiar with each other from playing only a couple days prior. For the Hurricanes, the game represents an opportunity to take advantage of a friendly stretch of schedule playing consecutive games against another team that has also been struggling. With the Canes needing some kind of burst to get back into the playoff mix and a tougher stretch of schedule on the way, now would be a great time to build some momentum with consecutive wins. My watch points for Thursday’s game are as follows.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Philadelphia Flyers 1) A spark out of the gate Even in Monday’s win, the Hurricanes seemed to lack jump out of the gate. In consecutive games against other teams also at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division, the Canes have played their part in making the game look like a sluggish, grinding affair between two teams destined for the draft lottery. On Thursday, I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes can find a higher gear and get back to playing the aggressive skating and attacking style that was their calling card in the preseason and also the front part of the regular season.   2) More sources of offense Monday’s win was only the third of the 2018-19 season...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm38 Vs. Phi: Round 2 of battle for the basement pits Canes against the Flyers

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm38 Vs. Phi: Round 2 of battle for the basement pits Canes against the Flyers

With Saturday’s 2-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils, the Hurricanes will play their last game of 2018 needing a win to stay out of the basement of the Metropolitan Division. Entering the game, the Canes are in a three-way tie with New Jersey and Philadelphia who is Monday’s opponent. Right now, the 2018-19 is in triage with need for a minor miracle to keep playoff hopes from completely perishing early again. Ironically, the team actually has solid goaltending as a solid foundation to build on but is struggling so much in the scoring department that good goaltending outings are being wasted on a regular basis. My watch points for the New Year’s Eve match up follows.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Philadelphia Flyers 1) Sebastian Aho The positives are not many right now, but Sebastian Aho continues to be worth watching in a positive way on a nightly basis. He was held off the score sheet in Saturday’s loss but continued generating chances. He has eight goals and five assists in the past ten games and continues to be the team’s best player.   2) A Dougie Hamilton break through It is no secret that his 2018-19 season has not gone as planned. He is one of a few players who have the potential to significantly boost the offense if he can find a higher gear. My game recap from Saturday liked Hamilton’s edgy, physical play and propensity to shoot the puck whenever given the chance. I think he is playing the right way and doing the right things to bust out of...