The latest news heading into the second of two games against the Detroit Red Wings is that Jordan Staal is out of the lineup in COVID protocol. Here is hoping that Jordan is healthy and back soon. Every time this happens, it will feel like waiting for the other shoe to drop seeing if the Canes situation goes the same route as the Dallas Stars who are now scheduled to start their season on January 22 after a delay because 17 players tested positive.
The most immediate effect of Jordan Staal being out of the lineup will likely be that Morgan Geekie draws into the lineup.
Coming out of the 3-0 win over the Red Wings on Thursday, the Hurricanes are mostly looking for more of the same. The game was tight well into it, but I still think the Hurricanes had the upper hand by enough. A bounce here or there, and the score would have been 3-0 earlier in a game in which the Hurricanes out-shot and out-chanced the Red Wings by a significant margin.
The biggest thing is collecting the two points, but still early in the season, it is also a good opportunity to continue evaluating the Hurricanes players and combinations.
My watch points for Saturday night’s match up follow.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Detroit Red Wings
1) Top of the lineup
The Hurricanes first line of Niederreiter/Aho/Teravainen was very good on Thursday and could easily have collected more points. Aho and Teravainen were great at both ends of the ice, and Niederreiter got his 2020-21 season off to a good start by potting a goal early. On Saturday, I will be watching to see if the trio can build off the strong start and especially if Niederreiter can start strong, build confidence and right it to a strong 2020-21 campaign as a scoring power forward.
2) But where is the help?
The downside was that the Hurricanes offense mostly began and ended with that line. None of the other three lines were particularly effective. I continue to prefer the idea of surrounding Vincent Trocheck with as much fire power is available after building the first line with the aim of getting him going and building a second scoring line. The injury to Jordan Staal necessitates some changes and could see my wish come to fruition for a trial. Regardless of how Brind’Amour builds the lineup, I will be watching closely to see if the Canes get another forward line to spark.
3) Morgan Geekie
Geekie is still early in his development, but he clearly has more of an offensive skill set than a player whose ceiling scoring-wise is the fourth line. I will be interested to see how Geekie looks in general but even more so if he gets a chance to play with skill on his wing.
4) Continued rebounds
Both Ryan Dzingel and Nino Niederreiter scored in the opener. After tough seasons for both in 2019-20, the possibility of getting them both going early and building some confidence in the process is worth watching. At a very basic level, the Hurricanes have two paths to improvement at forward as compared to the 2019-20 season. First is the continued growth of the young core which is a near certainty. Second is having a couple other players emerge scoring-wise to make the team deeper offensively. As I said on Twitter, one game does not a season make, but you have to start somewhere if Niederreiter or Dzingel are going to take a jump up offensively.
The puck drops at 7:30pm on Fox Sports Carolinas with Tripp, Mike, Abby and Shane.