After a tough 1-4 start to the month of November, the Hurricanes have won two straight and have a chance to pull back to .500 at 4-4 with a win against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. Treading water is not ideal, but it sure beats drowning and is a necessary evil for some stretches over the course of a long 82-game NHL season.
The Wild enter the game sitting in last place in the Central Division but have won three of their last five games. Recent Canes history suggests that strength of opponent can be overrated in the NHL.
On the Hurricanes side of the ledger, Jordan Martinook has been reactivated. If he returns, the team will have its entire opening day roster available again. The Hurricanes have consecutive wins entering the game, but I think the results inflate the level of the rebound so far. The team is still a bit loose defensively but has been able to outscore that deficiency in consecutive games.
My watch points for Saturday’s afternoon match up follow.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Minnesota Wild
1) More of the same offensively
In the past two games, the Hurricanes have found their scoring mojo from early in the season. Sebastian Aho has been atop the score sheet which is encouraging, and more generally the team has been scoring in bunches. On Saturday, I will be watching to see if the recent run leads to a rhythm and confidence that breeds more of the same on Saturday.
2) The lineup
Will Jordan Martinook draw immediately into the lineup? If so, who will come out? Will Brind’Amour mostly stick with the lines from Thursday’s win? Or will he do some additional tinkering with Martinook joining the group? Thus far in 2019-20, Brind’Amour has been more prone to mixing and matching compared to being pretty steadfast at this point in his rookie season as a head coach in 2018-19.
3) A cleaner effort
I continue to think that finding a sustainable winning run will require the team to clean things up a bit defensively. Reuniting Joel Edmundson and Brett Pesce seemed to add some stability, but the team is still giving up too much from odd man rushes and defensive zone coverage break downs right now. On Saturday, I will be watching to see if the team can make progress in this area of the game.
The puck drops at an odd 2pm on Fox Sports Carolinas with John, Tripp and Mike. Set your DVR if you have afternoon plans.