After a couple days for everyone to recover his/her voice after spending all of it on Monday night, the Hurricanes and Capitals will be back in action at PNC Arena for game 4.
It is partially from yesterday’s article also looking at the series coming out of game 3, but today’s Daily Cup of Joe has a list of players to watch.
On Monday, the Hurricanes scored in bunches largely just by completely overwhelming the Capitals and generating scoring chances via brute force. If and when the Capitals are able to rebound and push back the jail break brand of offense that the Hurricanes relied on in game 3 is likely to slow a bit as the game tightens up. If that happens, the Hurricanes will need more offense at a time when it just lost two good depth scorers in Andrei Svechnikov and Micheal Ferland. Aho might be rising up just in time to meet that need. After an extended stretch of ‘meh’ hockey offensively with virtually nothing for goal scoring, Aho just might be catching his second wind. He chipped in a goal in game 2, but more significantly he looked rejuvenated in game 3. For the first time in awhile, he was wheeling around the offensive zone and generating scoring chances with his skating ability. As the Hurricanes player with the greatest potential to boost the offense, Aho is worth watching right now.
With the frenetic pace and physical play, Dougie Hamilton looks like he is a great fit for at times chaotic playoff hockey. His two goals in game 3 were the headline, but he also just looks to be dialed in more generally. As demonstrated on Monday, Hamilton has a good chance to score on the power play right now, and his fourth forward style of play has the potential to lead to scoring chances when the Canes turn the puck over and Washington is a bit slow identifying defensive marks in transition.
He was tested only very early and late in game 3. It is odd for a goalie to pitch a shutout and not be named one of the three stars, but I actually think that was the right call. The Canes were so dominant that very little was asked of Mrazek until the game was decided. Nevertheless, Mrazek has been trending upward. At some point when the Capitals rebound, the Hurricanes will need Mrazek to be on the top of his game to hold the fort. Based on what he did in February and March, he definitely seems capable.
In a series that is becoming increasingly more rugged by the game, Jordan Staal fits the profile of what is needed on the Hurricanes side. Neither he nor anyone else needs to drop the gloves, but the Hurricanes do need to match the Capitals in terms of physical intensity from here on out. Any and all scoring would be welcome too, but the greatest need is for Jordan Staal to just do what he does best which is to defend and drive the puck into the offensive zone. Using his big frame to bang on the Capitals defensemen will also be a benefit as the series wears on.
After a mostly quiet 2018-19 regular season, Warren Foegele caught a spark late in the regular season that has carried over to the playoffs. He was the best player in the game in Monday’s win. He looked two steps faster than any of the Capitals defensemen whom he was forechecking and was consistently relentless in terms of going to the top of the crease and battling first for position and then the puck when it arrived. The blue collar scoring chances that Foegele generated in bunches on Monday night are exactly the kind with the best chance of beating a good goalie like Braden Holtby. Foegele is surging at the right time of year. Here is hoping he can keep it up.
What say you Canes fans?
1) If you had to make a Canes ‘players to watch’ list of 3-4 Hurricanes players, who would be on your list?
2) Who would you include on a similar Capitals ‘players to watch’ list?
3) Who do you predict will be the difference-maker(s) in game 4?