On Thursday night in Buffalo, the Hurricanes made a couple plays early and then despite failing to muster a true killer instinct played a decent rest of the game to hold on for a 2-1 win. Details aside, the Hurricanes did the work necessary to beat a team below them in the standings to continue a push above .500 and closer to the pack of teams in the middle of the Metropolitan Division.
The win is followed by a quick turnaround with a home game against the Boston Bruins on Friday. With a win, the Hurricanes will complete a perfect short week at 2-0. With a loss, the team pushes 2 games deeper into the season still mostly treading water.
Also significant is that a Flyers loss yesterday. The 9-point deficit to the Flyers looks huge but is overstated by the fact that the Flyers have played 4 more games. With a win, the Hurricanes would pull to within 7 points still with 3 games and a potential 6 points in hand.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Boston Bruins
1) Matching the big line
The Bruins boast a top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. 20-year old David Pastrnak in particular has been on fire with 19 goals already this season. Fans can expect Peters to pull out his go-to home formula of pairing Jordan Staal’s line with the Slavin/Pesce pairing and going strength on strength all night. With the rest of the Bruins’ offense sputtering a bit in 2016-17, winning or even breaking even with this match up could go a long way toward winning the hockey game for the Hurricanes. The currently configured lines put young forwards Brock McGinn and Elias Lindholm in a key spot flanking Jordan Staal taking on checking line duties against an elite NHL line.
2) Justin Faulk
Justin Faulk continues to be 1 of the Hurricanes players that I am watching most closely of late. He is in the midst of a scoring surge with 3 goals and 4 assists in his last 7 games and is coming off a solid road effort defensively. I continue to watch Faulk to see if he is finding the higher gear necessary to lead 1 of the Canes’ top defense pairings and in the process help solidify the Hurricanes defensively especially on the road.
3) 60-minute push in ’empty the tank’ game
After 4 days off this week and with 4 more off following this game, this is truly 1 of those games where players can empty the tank knowing they will have plenty of time to recuperate before the next game. The 1 negative for Thursday’s win was the Hurricanes inability to efficiently close out a win early. The play was not bad. The Hurricanes actually dominated the second period with a 2-0 lead and earned 4 power plays for their efforts. But the team failed to close the game out and was instead forced to endure another nail-biter clinging to a 1-goal lead down the stretch. The team has also been prone to an atrocious period here and there. Against a good Bruins team, I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes can maintain a high level of intensity and play for a full 60 minutes.
4) Noah Hanifin
The Boston kid has a knack for putting up big games against his hometown team. I will be watching to see if he can have another big game and help lead the Hurricanes community into the holiday weekend in good hockey spirits.
The game is the usual 7:37ish Friday start at PNC Arena.