After a somewhat disappointing loss to start the holiday season after a slow start against the Rangers, the Carolina Hurricanes get a chance to add some holiday joy on home ice.
I like to break down the Hurricanes schedule into runs of games usually lasting a couple weeks each. Today’s game represents the first game of a stretch of ten with tougher sledding with seven on the road and a healthy helping of top tier teams. That upcoming stretch of schedule was the subject of today’s Daily Cup of Joe.
Shorter term, I think Friday’s game is more significant than just another game. After a loss on Wednesday and with difficult road match ups against Tampa Bay and Boston looming, a win Friday would eliminate the chance for a losing streak before it started. No doubt the Hurricanes in a good place right now in the standing, but the gap is small enough that four losses would wipe it out quickly.
Against that backdrop with a small dose of extra urgency, here are my watch points for Friday night.
‘What I’m watching’ style preview for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Nashville Predators
1) The starting line
The Hurricanes more or less sealed their fate in Wednesday’s loss solely with a lackluster start. When you spot an NHL team three goals, the odds off winning shrink precipitously. Wednesday’s result should be a strong reminder of that. On Friday, I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes can find a higher gear to start the game.
2) Petr Mrazek
With a full and energetic house on a Friday night over a holiday weekend, the atmosphere should be as close to last March and the playoffs as possible for November. Mrazek seemed to be receive and feed energy into these atmospheres last year. If he gets the start, I will be watching to see if he can feed off the atmosphere and post a strong outing.
3) Top players leading the way
As noted above, this is the kind of game that the team needs. In that type of game, leaders need to lead. On Friday, I will be watching to see who rises up to lead the way.
The puck drops at 7:37pm at PNC Arena or on Fox Sports Carolinas with John, Tripp and Mike if you could not find a ticket.