After a brutal 8-1 loss in Toronto on Tuesday, the Hurricanes will look to right the ship in Nashville against the Predators on Thursday night.
Interestingly, the game marks the second time in a couple weeks that the Hurricanes square off against Predators seeking to change their fortunes after a rough patch that included a loss to the Maple Leafs. On the Sunday ending Thanksgiving week, the Hurricanes pulled out a much-needed win after losing two straight at home sandwiched around Thanksgiving day.
After Tuesday’s game, the watch points are focused solely inward…
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Nashville Predators
1) A response
After a humiliating loss like Tuesday’s, the bare minimum is to respond in terms of effort, intensity and desire. If the Hurricanes cannot even muster that, it is time for serious soul searching both within the player leadership and coaching ranks. Giving credit where it is due, the team did show resiliency and the ability to stick with it during the challenging western road trip, so I am expecting similar on Thursday night. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe shows that even good teams have games like Tuesday’s but also that they tend to overwhelmingly respond with a win in the next game. Can the Hurricanes do similar on Thursday night?
2) Cam Ward
As of writing this, I have not seen an official announcement as to the Hurricanes starting goalie for Thursday, but I will be shocked if Ward does not get the nod.
If Cam Ward is going to have a resurgence as a Canes netminder, I think now is the time. The team desperately needs some stability at the position right now. Ward has for the most part been pretty good in a backup role this season and played well in his last start. And he should be fresh having played in only 10 games more than two months into the 2017-18 season.
If Ward does get the start, I will be watching closely to see if he can be the steady and calming force that the team needs right now.
3) Jeff Skinner
Somewhat like Ward, I think the time needs to be now for Jeff Skinner’s next scoring burst. By no means is the team out of the playoff chase right now, but it is dangerously close to again finding itself needing to pull off a minor miracle to make the playoffs. A patented two-week goal scoring binge from Skinner that puts the offense on his back and helps the team push into January positively would be incredibly well-timed. With a goal in the loss on Tuesday, I will be watching to see if Skinner can use it to spark his next surge.
The #CanesCoaster continues with puck drop at 8pm on Fox Sports Carolinas with John, Tripp and Mike.