After a slow start and a 3-2 road loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday and a decent effort level but mostly complete lack of cohesion and a 3-0 home loss to the Nashville Predators on Friday, the Hurricanes have one last try against the Tampa Bay Lightning to pick up a win during Thanksgiving week.
With another tough road game in Boston next on Tuesday on the front end of a tougher stretch of schedule, the Hurricanes could really use a tremendous effort and a win on Saturday to protect what they have gained so far in 2019-20.
The Hurricanes have an early season win over the Lightning when the team was still figuring it out. The Lightning do enter with a two-game losing streak (one in overtime) but in general have found a rhythm and have been playing better.
On the Hurricanes side of the ledger, the Hurricanes just have not been able to put it all together recently. Even wins have been plagued by lapses in focus and attention to detail. And Friday’s game featured a team that I actually give credit for competing hard but really just looked out of sync again in terms of moving the puck from stick to stick and generating any kind of playmaking offense.
My watch points follow.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Tampa Bay Lightning
1) A good start and 60-minute effort
Though the scoreboard never showed it, I think the Hurricanes scored decent or better in this regard on Friday night. The start was good. The Hurricanes had the upper hand for at least the first five minutes. And though the effort lacked cohesiveness, I actually thought the effort was there. The Hurricanes were even in terms of puck possession and did a decent job of getting bodies and pucks to the front of the net, but everything was contested and the Hurricanes did not net a lucky bounce goal. In terms of start and effort, I will mostly be looking for something similar to Friday maybe with a slight boost.
2) Cohesiveness and playmaking
I think where the Hurricanes struggled most on Friday and to some degree on Wednesday was the ability to move the puck cohesively and get much playmaking or passing to create good scoring chances. The Hurricanes seemed limited to trying to get the puck into the offensive zone and chuck the puck toward that net. While that is a great component for scoring, a couple more higher-end chances would also have been very helpful. With Haula out of the lineup, the Hurricanes lean defense over offense down the middle with Jordan Staal, Lucas Wallmark and Clark Bishop. The team could use some help from the wing or an ugly goal or two to generate a bit more offense.
3) The top line
With the team a bit challenged offensively in the past couple games, timing would be great for a surge by the team’s top line which at least as of Friday night was Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen. The timing of this also coincides with a big challenge for the young group, as they will face tough road match ups against teams that can chase them with elite defensive players.
4) The fourth line
I really liked the effort by Jordan Martinook, Clark Bishop and Brock McGinn on Friday night. Their brand of offense is not pretty, but they understood what they needed to do and executed getting pucks deep and getting to the front of the net. After not catching a break on Friday, can they maybe get a deserved bounce or two and get on the scoreboard on Saturday?
The puck drops at 7pm on Fox Sports Carolinas with John, Tripp and Mike.