Sometimes nothing is better after a tough loss than a fast turnaround and chance to get back in the win column quickly. Friday’s loss to a very good Dallas Stars team was a disappointing 1 in multiple ways. After 4 days off, the Canes failed to find the ignition switch out of the gate. Even still, they survived and were 9 minutes away from going to overtime at 1-1 with a point in hand and a chance to build on a 2-0 overtime record. Instead, a costly turnover by Ron Hainsey led to a 2-1 rush and goal the other way and an implosion to the tune of a 4-1 loss after another regular goal and an empty-netter at the buzzer.
But a win on Saturday against Ottawa makes for a light 1-1 week that does not make up ground on getting to break even but does not not fall farther behind either. Perhaps treading water while the Canes try to find a more consistent formula is not the worst thing.
With that, here is ‘What I’m watching’ for Saturday’s match up versus Ottawa:
1) Cam Ward
Eddie Lack was actually very good on Friday and on track to steal a point or 2 before the late mishap. With the Canes offense sputtering right now, there is very little margin for error in net. Cam Ward will very likely be asked to be great to give the Canes a chance to win.
2) Better effort/better start
Part of Friday’s struggle was simply that the Dallas Stars are a good hockey team and are also very good at moving the puck from stick to stick and keeping it once they have it, but there was also an element of the Canes just not being ready to start on Friday night.
3) Who plays with whom? Does any of it click? Does any of it last?
With a loss, some sloppy play and only a single goal last night, I would expect to see a reshuffling of the lines for Saturday night. Trying different combinations is standard for Coach Bill Peters. I keep hoping for a longer-term reuniting of Skinner/Versteeg.
I continue to make my 2 priorities on offense as getting both Jeff Skinner and Eric Staal going offensively. I continue to think that Eric Staal is playing decent if not great and also seems capable of helping getting his line going. Jeff Skinner is still mostly lost offensively through 13 games.
- In a preseason game, Jeff Skinner had 3 goals (third was technically in 3-on-3 overtime exhibition).
- In a grand total of 2 shifts together (and I believe first time they played together in the regular season), Skinner hit Versteeg with a pretty pass for a goal.
- And in the other game they played (most of) together in the regular season, Nash scored playing with them.
What’ s not to like? Is there anything more important offensively than getting Skinner going? Why not try it — for more than a period?
I am celebrating an anniversary tonight, so I will not likely catch the game until Sunday morning. Here is hoping that loyal Caniacs in attendance are rewarded with much better than Friday night’s fare.