After a couple days off and another round of cuts, the Hurricanes return to the ice in Edmonton with a lineup that this gradually looking more NHLish.
I recommend making Michael Smith’s game day post at CarolinaHurricanes.com a regular stop before, during or after reading my ‘What I’m watching.’ Most days he is the best source of up to the minute information on injuries, line/defense combinations and everything else leading up to a Hurricanes game.
Michael Smith lines of:
Scott Darling makes his first preseason start in net.
My rough math (because everything is obviously not decided yet) says that 14 of 19 players are likely to be in the opening day lineup.
‘What I’m watching’ against the Edmonton Oiler
1) The blue line
Except for Justin Faulk who is making only his second appearance, Monday will be at least the third game for the other four defensemen who figure to be regulars come October. And Monday’s Oilers lineup comes with the vast majority of the team’s offensive fire power including Connor McDavid and Leon Draistatl. The game figures to be a good mid-preseason test for the Hurricanes defense which I continue to have marked as a regular watch point and critical element to taking the next step for the 2017-18 season.
2) Scott Darling
I am on record as believing based on recent Hurricanes experience that there is virtually no carryover from preseason to regular season for goalies. That said, with Scott Darling delayed a bit by a minor injury and just making his first start in a Hurricanes uniform in game five of seven, he is definitely a watch point. Stellar and spectacular is not required, but reasonably sharp despite being limited to practice work would be a nice bonus.
3) The kids trying to seize an opportunity
The Hurricanes lineup also features a line of Saarela/Necas/Kuokkanen which puts three talented young players on the ice together. Saarela and Necas showed great chemistry in a previous outing, and Kuokkanen is also a talented offensive player. After an already strong first half of preseason, if Martin Necas has in him a four-point game or similar that rewrites coach/general manager’s plans, now would be the time to pull it out.
4) The sets of wings
They have switched centers a couple times, but thus far Teravainen and Williams have primarily played together and so have Aho and Lindholm. Tonight’s line sees the first duo with Jordan Staal and the second duo with Victor Rask. I see pros and cons to each way and will be using Monday night to continue that assessment where it matters most – on the ice.
A not-to-be-underestimated bonus on Monday is the fact that the Oilers are making a video stream available that should be accessible from the Hurricanes website. Thank you Alberta!
The puck is scheduled to drop a few minutes after 9pm Eastern Time.