One more time.
One more time.
We’re gonna celebrate.
Oh yeah, all right.
Don’t stop the
On Sunday in Raleigh, the Carolina Hurricanes will look for their fourth win in 4 tries this week. The win would also pull the Canes to an even 6-6 record through 12 games. With 8 of those 12 games played on the road that would be a pretty solid start.
The also wraps up a busy stretch of hockey with 4 games in 6 days including travel before the first 3 games. And it leads up to a nice stretch of 4 off days at home that will be good to heal any bumps and bruises and also get some solid practice time (can you say power play work). But before the rest, the Canes would very much like to win ‘one more time.’
Tampa played at home tonight (and lost 3-1) and of course had to travel, so theoretically the Canes should have an edge physically, but those advantages must be taken/earned. They are not simply given. I have not heard an official announcement, but I would be surprised if Cam Ward is not back in net. And though it sounds like the Canes will also be without Elias Lindholm who was injured in the first period on Friday in an awkward spill into the boards.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are not firing on all cylinders yet. The team comes in at only 5-5-2. But it is still the same team that came within a couple wins of winning the Cup last season, and it is still loaded with offensive fire power.
What I am watching Sunday vs. Tampa includes:
1) Seize the physical advantage
As noted above, the Lightning played last night and traveled. The Canes are playing their fourth game in 6 nights, but should still have a bit of an edge if they can seize it. In addition, the Canes have been getting stronger in the second half of games this week, so who about a strong start and a strong finish?
2) Special teams
Best would be to stay out of the box and put special teams on the shelf until after 4 off days next week to work on the ailing power play. The Canes did score a power play goal of exactly the variety of which they need more – full screens and putting the puck on the net. But otherwise it still looked very disjointed and out of sync. The penalty kill is rounding into form, but with the skill that Tampa has on the power play, the easiest way to get an acceptable break even on special teams is probably just to not play much of them.
3) Continuing to attack weakness.
A 3-game winning streak is never anything to sneeze at in the NHL, but there was an element of competition in it too. Detroit (the first win) has been struggling of late with a 2-4-1 record around the loss to the Canes. Colorado (the third win) is similarly having a hard time of it. The Avs were 1-3-1 in their last 5 games entering Friday night. The Isles came in playing better.
At some point, one would figure the Lightning to be 1 of the better teams in the NHL, but the team enters Sunday’s match up with 4 consecutive losses (1 in overtime). If the Canes can continue their current surge and all-around solid play, it looks like a winnable game especially when add extra credit for Tampa playing the second half of a back-to-back.
4) Coach Peters’ ability to find and ride the players who are going
With Tampa playing last night and the Canes wrapping up 4 in 6 nights, there is likely to be some sluggishness and a mix of players who can find a higher gear and players who cannot. In these games, there is often open ice to be had for the players who are moving. Coach Bill Peters’ ability to get an early read on who is going and get them on the ice more and in favorable situations could play a key part in this win.
A few players that I think have the potential:
- Ryan Murphy. I called him out for a big game on Friday and was reasonably accurate. He had 2 assists and was good carrying the puck. He is really playing a confident (wants to play with the puck on his stick) and controlled (picking spots correctly instead of always forcing it) version of his game right now. I name him first again.
- The Staal brothers. In the past couple games both have been playing a heavy power forward game that is tough to play against anyway but especially if opponents are a bit fatigued. Here is hoping they can bring it again.
- Skinner/Nash. Nash has been skating well and a bit more space on the ice makes room for Skinner to buzz around.
Regardless of who it is, I think Peters’ ability to identify who is going and picking spots and match ups for them could be a key component in a win.
It is 1 of those odd 5pm starts at PNC Arena on Sunday. The Carolina Panthers do not play until Monday, so it is a perfect day for early evening Canes hockey.
I am tied up with 1 of few things that would keep me away from Canes hockey at 5pm, so recap will be after I catch up on DVR later Sunday night. Hope Canes faithful at PNC are treated to more of Friday’s level of hockey entertainment.