After a mostly well-played game against the Boston Bruins, the 2-0 loss driven by a couple late mental errors stung even worse. The loss pushed the Canes to 1-2 since Thanksgiving and back to five games above .500 which is where the team was after a 5-0 start. The Hurricanes are still in a good place but have basically been treading water for a long time since the hot start.
Thursday and the home game against Minnesota that follows on Saturday represent a chance to regain some positive ground before a frequent flyer special five-game road trip traversing the western part of North America.
This the kind of game that the team needs to get if it wants to stay out of the dogfight below the playoff cut line. And after a disappointing loss on Tuesday, this is the kind of game where the leadership needs to rise up and lead the way.
My watch points follow.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the San Jose Sharks
1) Continuation with a dose of desperation
The effort on Tuesday came really close to being one of the most complete of the season. The team is struggling to find enough sparks on offense right (see below), but in terms of playing sound hockey, the Canes fame within four minutes of doing just that. On Tuesday, I will be watching to see if the team can mostly just push forward in terms of generally sound play and made add a bit of bite to it from Tuesday’s disappointment.
2) Seeking catalysts on offense
One of the overarching trends right now is a struggle to find enough sources of offense. At home, Brind’Amour should be able to get Aho and company a few more favorable match ups which hopefully helps. But past that, I think the team needs a few players like Ryan Dzingele, Nino Niederreiter and others to create more from the wings in a lineup that is light on traditional playmaking from the center position. I will be watching to see what the Hurricanes can generate offensively past Aho’s line which hopefully leads the way.
3) Best being best
As noted above, the team has had some ups but in general has been treading water for some time. The next leg up likely depends on the team’s best players finding a higher gear. The team managed to win early with some key players underperforming. With the team sputtering a bit, I will be watching to see if the top players can rise up and lead the way.
The puck drops at 7:07pm at PNC Arena.