Coming off a wild and disappointing loss on Tuesday, the Canes try to rebound in Anaheim on Friday night. Tuesday featured another good day for the offense partly due to another dose of ‘iffy’ opponent goaltending. Five goals should be enough to win and should have been enough for the Canes on Tuesday if they did not get equally ‘iffy’ goaltending. The plague previously affecting the Canes scorers that made it impossible to score enough to win has clearly moved to the netminders who have both been struggling mightily of late.
A potential positive (my opinion anyway) is that the situation will get Eddie Lack another shot to start a game. My wish continues to be that Coach Bill Peters commits to a run of games for Lack to see if he can find a rhythm and how he looks if he does. Now 28 games into the season with a couple decent opportunities to stick with Lack, Peters has not gone that route yet. So perhaps the only way is for Lack to have that 1 good game that earns him another start and another and another…
With that, here is what I will be watching for Friday night’s game:
1) Eddie Lack
Of course this is top of the list. Eddie Lack and the goaltending situation could actually have the greatest carry over to next season (since Lack is already signed for 2 more years), so I am anxious to fish for what Lack’s upside is, hoping that he has 1 relative to what we have seen so far. I wrote up the goaltending situation in some detail earlier this week in this post.
There are no guarantees in net these days for the Canes, but an Eddie Lack start on Friday at least has the potential to turn into a run of a games, the ability to see what he can do if he finds some rhythm and hopefully more positive results.
2) Hot or random blip?
Jeff Skinner had another nice goal on Tuesday giving him 3 in 3 games. Phil Di Giuseppe burst onto the score sheet for the first time. Eric Staal broke a long drought last weekend. The team in general has scored in bunches in consecutive games. Is it random blip bound to happen over the course of a long NHL season? Or is it possible that the offense is finally heating up? I will be watching Jeff Skinner, the power play and the offense in general to see if the group can continue to put the puck in the net.
3) The kids on D
Noah Hanifin and Jaccob Slavin seem to have found instant chemistry and are playing decent hockey together. The key is for the duo NOT to settle in but rather to keep improving rapidly. Patience is important, but the ultimate goal is for these young defensemen to drive scoring and game outcomes. The young blue line is the theoretical strength of the team’s future, and the future is quickly becoming now.
The puck drops at about 10pm Raleigh time, so grab your coffee, spirits or whatever it is you need to do Canes hockey until after midnight.