After a tremendously rough start to a holiday week at home and the US Thanksgiving Holiday, the Carolina Hurricanes return to the ice at PNC Arena on Friday night looking to get back on the right track against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The game sets up a bit like last Saturday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. After an ugly loss following a win streak, the Hurricanes will be trying to get a bad taste out of their mouths and also stop a negative at one loss before it becomes even a short streak.
The opponent is the Toronto Maple Leafs. After a six-game mid-November winning streak, the Leafs come in also looking to rebound after losing consecutive games to downtrodden opponents in Arizona and Florida.
When the Hurricanes and Maple Leafs met on October 26, the good guys jumped out to an early lead and won a skating and scoring track meet 6-3.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Toronto Maple Leafs
1) An on time start
There were a lot of things not to like about Wednesday’s 6-1 loss to the New York Rangers, but it all begins with the start. For whatever reason, the Hurricanes just did not look ready to go. Their defense was shoddy early, and then Scott Darling compounded the problems by whiffing with his glove on a pop fly for a goal against. By the time the Hurricanes could even find the smelling salts, they were down 3-1. On Friday, I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes can find a much higher gear out of the gate as compared to Wednesday’s debacle.
2) The defense
The need to play better defensively has been a recurring theme of late actually gathering steam during the team’s two losses last week. Usually stalwart Jaccob Slavin has hit a bit of a rough path that has resulted in defensive trouble at the top of the depth chart that his historically been a steady foundation for 20 plus minutes for nights in good times and in bad. Slavin wins the headline only because his recent struggles are so out character, but the defense in total was porous on Wednesday night and needs to be better. Especially early in Friday’s game, I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes blue line can right the ship.
3) Help for the TSA line
Even on a down night, Teravainen netted a power play goal to get the line on the board. But yet to materialize during Aho/Staal/Teravainen’s productive run is another line to help balance out the offense. On Friday, I will be watching to see if another line can find a higher gear and help boost scoring. Against a high-scoring leafs team and with a defense that is trending downward, timing is right for the Hurricanes to find another source of offense.
Despite being only one game, Wednesday’s game was the kind that can create a bit of adversity. Recently, the Hurricanes have actually been pretty good in terms of bouncing back for a win when they needed one. After a disappointing home loss that saw a third period lead blown against the Blackhawks, the Hurricanes rebounded two days later with a strong 5-1 win over Dallas. And just last week, the team followed up a bad 6-4 loss to the Islanders with a win in Buffalo two days later. At the time of writing this I have not seen official word on the Hurricanes goalie (someone holler if they have seen something), but my hunch is that Peters turns to Cam Ward who has been a veteran, calming influence on the team in his starts thus far during the 2017-18 season. Regardless who starts in net, on Friday, I will be watching to see if the leadership can again rally the squad for a quick rebound.
The puck drops at 7:37pm at PNC Arena.