When you enter the third period with a two-goal lead and proceed to immediately give up an extended 5-on-3 power play the league’s best power and a penalty shot to arguably the league’s best player in the middle of it and survive to win, you know the hockey gods are smiling on you. And when you also score on a fake dump in from the center line, it just makes it clearer how much the hockey gods love you right now.
The Hurricanes are in the middle of another stretch like the start of the year where they seem to have the bounces o their side and the ability to just outrun and outgun any volume or level of mistakes. With the long haul that an NHL season is, the key is to ride these stretches as long as possible to climb the standings and build a gap above the playoff cut line.
The Canes will try to do just that against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. Led by young talent, the Canucks are right in the thick of the playoff chase in the Western Conference and enter with three wins in their last five games.
For the Hurricanes, it is not about details right now but rather just riding the vibe and continuing to find ways to win even if it requires Connor McDavid to fail to even shoot on a penalty shot attempt.
My watch points for installment #2 of December’s #CanesAfterDark follows.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Vancouver Canucks
1) Riding the wave
The Hurricanes seem to be feeling it right now in terms of making good on a high percentage of scoring chances and just shrugging off any errors or shortcomings. On Thursday, I will be watching to see if the team can again play loose and easy and just pot goals in bunches if given the chance.
2) Sebastian Aho surging
With five goals in the past two games, saying the Sebastian Aho is hot right now would be an understatement. Teuvo Teravainen has been right in the middle of much of that scoring too which makes for a potent top line right now. On Thursday, I will be watching to see if the duo can continue its scoring ways and hopefully pull Nino Niederreiter into the mix. (He scored in Tuesday’s win.) On Thursday, I will be watching to see if the top line can stay hot and score a rate that makes a win highly probable regardless of what else happens.
3) Cleaner? (or maybe who cares…)
Generally speaking, the fun but incredibly sloppy version of winning is not sustainable in the NHL. With a willingness to gladly accept another fun and wild win, part of me will still be watching to see if the Hurricanes can clean things up a bit.
#CanesAfterDark is a late 10pm tonight of Fox Sports Carolinas with John, Tripp and Mike.