Suddenly skidding down the hill and trying to dig their heels in after three straight losses, the Hurricanes face a struggling Ottawa Senators team that is 5-9-1 on the season. But if record entering the game was the deciding factor, the Hurricanes would have won the last three games.
As I have harped about since the game (on Twitter, in my game recap and again in Friday’s Daily Cup of Joe), I really think Tuesday’s loss had as much to carry forward in terms of building a repeatable formula as any game this season despite the losing result. As such, I mostly wrote a preview for Saturday’s game calling it the most “intriguing” game so far this season.
Will the Hurricanes rebound in the win column?
Despite the losing result on Tuesday will the team realize that the effort was the right course such that they double down on determination, effort and intensity as a key part of their every game formula?
At the same time, can the team clean up what has increasingly been an intermittent mess defensively on the blue line?
The need for a win is great. The story lines are many. The drama is high.
My specific watch points follow.
‘What I’m watching’ style preview for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Ottawa Senators
1) A continuation (of most) of Tuesday
My rough math says that 85 percent of what the Hurricanes did on Tuesday is every bit worth keeping. The team won the territorial battled, attacked on the forecheck and caused turnovers and then indiscriminately fired shots at the net. That was a huge positive on Tuesday. On Saturday, I will be watching to see if the team can extend and stay the course in this regard.
2) Cleaning up the mess
As noted above, hidden behind continued offensive production is a blue line that is suddenly struggling with the all-important ‘defense’ part of its job. The number odd man rushes that the team is giving up is way too high right now, and the coverage lapses in the defensive zone continue to gift away too many grade A scoring chances. On Saturday, I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes defense can tighten things up.
Oftentimes the way over the hump in tough times is when a player can put the team on his back and drag the team to its next win. On Saturday, I will be watching to see who, if anyone, steps up to lead the way to a much-needed win.
The puck drops just after 7pm presumably with John, Tripp and Shane still filling in for Mike?