When the schedule for 2015-16 was released, this week set up as an interesting look to the future with Connor McDavid in Raleigh on Wednesday and then a road game against Jack Eichel on Friday. Connor McDavid’s injury obviously changed that, but the week does still offer back-to-back match ups against other teams trying to use young players to climb off the floor of the NHL and rise up.
With an overtime loss on Monday and a win on Wednesday, the game also presents the chance for the Hurricanes to have their first winning week since going 3-1 in the week that ended on November 1. A win would finish this week at 2-0-1 and even an overtime loss would be a positive 1-0-2. Interestingly, a win would also pull the Canes to within 1 win of break even. The Canes last played to be at .500 on November 1.
Here is a quick list of what I will be watching on Friday night:
1) Turkey effect
These holiday season games can be strange ones. The players are out of their normal game routines a bit with family stuff just like the rest of us. Travel schedules can be different, but I actually think it is easier for the road team on days like this because they can do their usual game day road preparation whereas the home team can be out of sync. Here is hoping the Canes come out strong and catch the Sabres sluggish early.
2) Jack Eichel vs. Noah Hanifin
As a hockey fan, it is always fun to get a first look at rising young stars. Tonight marks the Hurricanes first game against young talent and #2 overall pick Jack Eichel, so that is worth watching. It will also be interesting to see if the match up garners a little extra from Noah Hanifin too.
3) Continued offensive push from the back end
Canes interviews of late have been chock full of talk about ‘activating the defense,’ ‘getting more offense from the back end,’ etc. The defense has been scoring goals at a good clip of late, but the creation of offense off the rush is still a work on process. But there are positive signs. First, in addition to carrying the power play with goals scored, Justin Faulk has been on a run of assists mostly at even strength. The other thing that has stood out is Ron Hainsey pushing north-south with the puck on his stick more regularly and aggressively in recent games which is a bit out of character for his usual play.
I think the tide rises for the offense across the board if the Canes can push pace and attack from the back end.
The puck drops a little bit after 7pm on Fox with Tripp and John.