After a disappointing 3-2 loss in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, the Hurricanes face another top notch opponent at home on Friday. Wednesday’s loss was disappointing only because of the result. The Hurricanes dictated play, dominated long stretches of play and truly deserved to win. You can catch up with the recap HERE if you missed the game.
After playing the defending Stanley Cup Champions and second best team record-wise in the Eastern Conference, Friday’s game features the #1 team in the Western Conference and perennial Cup contenders in the Chicago Blackhawks. With the holiday week and a big out of town draw in town, the building will be full and the atmosphere lively.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Hurricanes versus the Blackhawks
Against that backdrop, here is what I’m watching for Friday’s home match up against the Chicago Blackhawks:
1) Continuation of Wednesday’s level of play
Oftentimes after a loss there is a sorting process to find a few things worth keeping among of bunch of things that need to be better. That really is not the case from Wednesday. There is an issue with attention to detail (see #2), but by and large Wednesday’s is something the team would like to repeat. I will be watching closely to see if the Hurricanes can again match up against a fast and skilled team and look faster and at least as skilled for more than their fair share of 60 minutes. If the team can make Wednesday’s level of a play an every-game occurrence, the wins will follow.
2) Greater attention to detail
Really the only negative in Wednesday’s loss was a few lapses defensively that sure enough a good team used as an opening to win a hockey game. The miscue by Matt Tennyson in the third period followed by Noah Hanifin doing very little to neutralize the situation was the difference in the game, and the Kunitz’ goal also featured a coverage lapse. The Hurricanes were not bad defensively in total, but there was room to be a bit tighter and more sound especially early in the third period when the game was tied at 2-2.
3) Another challenge for the defense
Sidney Crosby did net a goal against the Hurricanes on Wednesday, but it was more the result of 1 opportunistic strike than a game that saw him dominating and dangerous throughout. The I think you could actually make the case that the Hurricanes defense really was not tested as much as expected simply because the Canes won the puck possession battle by such a large margin and tilted the game into the Penguins’ defensive zone. Not playing too much defense is a great recipe for playing defense, but it is reasonable to expect the Hurricanes revamped blue line minus Justin Faulk to be tested more on Friday. The likes of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and more represent a formidable challenge if they get going.
The puck drops at about 7:30pm at PNC Arena.