After a solid four-game winning streak including three straight wins on the road, the Hurricanes returned home to continue their current struggles inside the Metropolitan Division. Despite running out to a 2-0 lead early, the Hurricanes lost 5-3. The last time the Hurricanes disappointed at home was against the New Jersey Devils to end another winning streak. That loss snowballed to become a four-game losing streak. Here is hoping that the Hurricanes can rebound quickly with a win on Saturday for Hockey Fights Cancer Night, the Hurricanes will again be on home ice and facing the Florida Panthers.
The Florida Panthers are a good hockey team so far in 2019-20 sitting at second place in the Atlantic Division and third overall in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers are also 7-2-1 in their last 10 games.
But this game is more about the Hurricanes rebounding quickly this time. After being gifted a 2-0 lead on two leaky goals, the Hurricanes took their foot off the pedal and quickly gave it back. After one of the most consistent efforts of the season on Tuesday, the team was back to sporadic. Can the Canes make like the second half of 2018-19 season and immediately cut short a losing streak this time?
My watch points follow.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Florida Panthers
1) Intensity and focus for 60
The Hurricanes played decent or better hockey for much of Thursday’s loss and for even more of Tuesday’s win. But on Thursday a pause was enough to allow the opposing goalie to get his feet under him and the Flyers to quickly wipe away his early struggles. On Saturday, I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes can post a more even effort across a full 60 minutes.
2) Line combinations
Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour shuffled the deck part-way through Thursday’s game. I will be curious to see if he goes back to some tried and true or continues to chart a new course in terms of line combinations.
3) Best against best
The Panthers have somewhat underrated high-end talent at the top of their lineup. On Thursday, Claude Giroux and his line were a one-line wrecking crew with Giroux notching points on all four Flyers’ goals (not counting the empty-netter). The Hurricanes top players were not bad, but at the same time they were outplayed by a wide margin. On Saturday, I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes top players can rise up and match or beat Florida’s best. Can Jordan Staal and his line have a strong game in a match up role? Can Sebastian Aho and his line outscore Florida’s top line?
The puck drops at 7:07pm at PNC Arena.