Much is being made about the top to bottom competitiveness in the Metropolitan Division. Only the New Jersey Devils are below .500. All of the other seven teams are very much in the playoff chase. Having lost seven straight games to Metropolitan Division foes dating back to October 12, the Hurricanes have done everything within their power to this cause. Wednesday’s game represents yet another chance to step on the heads of a team below them to continue climbing the ladder.
Aside from the recent Metro history and streak, the Hurricanes are trending positive right now. In terms of results, the Hurricanes have won six out of seven games. Modest progress has also been made in terms of playing a sounder, more consistent game. I would term this a work in progress, but recent wins over the Blackhawks, Wild, Red Wings and Panthers all featured extended stretches of more consistent play. I weight today’s game slightly in favor if ‘just keep winning’, but continued progress on tightening up is also worth watching.
My watch points follow.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the New York Rangers
1) 60 minutes
As noted above, the Hurricanes have made progress in fits and starts in terms of sounder play. That continues to be a watch point because I think it becomes more of need than a nice to have to win in the second half of the season once many teams have worked out kinks and improved since the beginning of the season.
2) The top line
Since being put together, Teuvo Teravainen, Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov have been scoring at a high rate. What is interesting to me is that by my assessment, the trio has not truly clicked yet such that 1+1+1=5. No doubt they have benefited from playing together, but I feel like they have more so thrived individually. That is to say that I think this trio could yet have another gear which is crazy exciting and worth watching.
3) The forward lines
One interesting difference to me in Rod Brind’Amour in year two versus his rookie year has been his increased willingness to tinker a bit with lines. He was steadfast to a level I had never seen before in sticking with lines last season. This season he has been much more apt to tinker a bit even when things have mostly been working. As such, I continue to watch the line combinations game by game to see what works in what situations but also to see if Brind’Amour seems to settle on something more permanent.
The puck drops at 7pm on Fox Sports Carolinas with John, Tripp and Mike.