With Saturday’s 2-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils, the Hurricanes will play their last game of 2018 needing a win to stay out of the basement of the Metropolitan Division. Entering the game, the Canes are in a three-way tie with New Jersey and Philadelphia who is Monday’s opponent.
Right now, the 2018-19 is in triage with need for a minor miracle to keep playoff hopes from completely perishing early again.
Ironically, the team actually has solid goaltending as a solid foundation to build on but is struggling so much in the scoring department that good goaltending outings are being wasted on a regular basis.
My watch points for the New Year’s Eve match up follows.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Philadelphia Flyers
1) Sebastian Aho
The positives are not many right now, but Sebastian Aho continues to be worth watching in a positive way on a nightly basis. He was held off the score sheet in Saturday’s loss but continued generating chances. He has eight goals and five assists in the past ten games and continues to be the team’s best player.
2) A Dougie Hamilton break through
It is no secret that his 2018-19 season has not gone as planned. He is one of a few players who have the potential to significantly boost the offense if he can find a higher gear. My game recap from Saturday liked Hamilton’s edgy, physical play and propensity to shoot the puck whenever given the chance. I think he is playing the right way and doing the right things to bust out of his funk. On Monday, I will be watching to see if Hamilton can convert his increased activity level into an upward trajectory for his 2018-19 season.
3) Any kind of secondary scoring
Past Aho and whoever he is able to take with him, the Hurricanes have had virtually nothing for offense for some time now. I will be watching eagerly to see if someone/anyone can step up and become a secondary scoring option.
4) The power play
The power play seemed to go from bad to worse in Saturday’s loss to the Devils. The team could not even enter and keep possession in the offensive zone let alone generate shots or scoring chances. Interestingly, after Brind’Amour iced a set of depth players to start a third period power play, the regular first power play unit finally seemed to catch a spark. They did not score, but they did at least generate quality scoring chances. On Monday, I will be watching for two things on the power play. First is to see if Brind’Amour makes any adjustments. Second is to see if there is any carry over from the one good power play shift in the third period on Saturday.
The puck drops at an early 6pm at PNC Arena.