After a strong effort and fun win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday afternoon, the Hurricanes aim to run the streak to two wins and close out a strong October. Even with a loss, a 7-4-1 mark would be solid, but 8-3-1 is just that much better.
The foe features a number of familiar faces with the Calgary Flames in town. Former Canes bench boss Bill Peters leads former Canes Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin and Derek Ryan into PNC Arena for the match up. The Flames enter with a respectable 6-5-2 mark but have not yet found the higher gear they had for much of the 2018-19 season before unceremoniously exiting the playoffs early.
For the Hurricanes, the game is about building on Saturday and trying to find a steady rhythm after a stretch that has featured more downs than ups. More so than this time last year, Brind’Amour continues tinkering with lines a bit, but is likely to mostly stick with what worked fairly well on Saturday. Bigger than combinations is trying to build a repeatable formula that is greater than just outscoring any mistakes or lapses.
My watch points follow.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Calgary Flames
1) Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov
Svechnikov scored his first two even strength goals of the 2019-20 season on Saturday, and Aho had two assists in the win. One of Svechnikov’s goals was on the power play, and one game is too little for sweeping assessments, but I continue to be optimistic about this duo and will be watching them closely again on Tuesday.
2) Petr Mrazek
Petr Mrazek’s shutout on Saturday boosted his save percentage to a more middling .909 after spending most of the season in the bottom quarter of the NHL. His 5-1-1 record is scintillating, but his play has been more up and down than the record might indicate. He played his best game of the season to that point in a shutout win over Los Angeles to start the West Coast road trip, but then followed it up by being pulled in his next start after allowing four goals and then posting another ‘meh’ effort in an overtime loss. In that regard, Tuesday’s game represents another chance to string together consecutive top-tier starts and start go build a rhythm. I will be watching to see if Mrazek can pick up where he left off on Saturday.
3) Jake Gardiner
Gardiner is now 11 games into his time with the Hurricanes and has been a quiet under-the-radar so far. Per history and scouting, arguably his greatest strength is what he brings offensively. But through 11 games, the power play unit that he quarterbacks has largely been unproductive (he has zero power play points), and he has not really created much at even strength either (only three points). After playing most of the season in a third pairing role, he seems likely to pair with Brett Pesce tonight which should net him more ice time and more time against higher lines. Timing would be right for him to leverage the foundation he has built while getting acclimated to a new team and to use that to start leveraging his offensive abilities.
The puck drops at 7:07pm at PNC Arena.