After another fun holiday win on New Year’s Eve, the Hurricanes had another short break before playing its first game in 2019. The game is a rematch against the Flyers on Thursday night in Philadelphia. Though the game is not a true back-to-back since the Flyers played on Tuesday, the teams should be familiar with each other from playing only a couple days prior.
For the Hurricanes, the game represents an opportunity to take advantage of a friendly stretch of schedule playing consecutive games against another team that has also been struggling. With the Canes needing some kind of burst to get back into the playoff mix and a tougher stretch of schedule on the way, now would be a great time to build some momentum with consecutive wins.
My watch points for Thursday’s game are as follows.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Philadelphia Flyers
1) A spark out of the gate
Even in Monday’s win, the Hurricanes seemed to lack jump out of the gate. In consecutive games against other teams also at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division, the Canes have played their part in making the game look like a sluggish, grinding affair between two teams destined for the draft lottery. On Thursday, I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes can find a higher gear and get back to playing the aggressive skating and attacking style that was their calling card in the preseason and also the front part of the regular season.
2) More sources of offense
Monday’s win was only the third of the 2018-19 season and the first since late November in which Sebastian Aho did not score at least one point. With the team struggling mightily to score goals, it must get more production from sources other than the line that Aho drives. On Monday, Svechnikov’s goal came when he was on the ice with Clark Bishop. Lucas Wallmark and Jordan Martinook chipped in too. And suddenly, scoring did not appear to be so difficult. For the Hurricanes to win with any consistency, they will need continued contributions from more scoring sources, so on Thursday I will be watching to see if another group can step up and chip in.
3) Dougie Hamilton
I noted in a couple games prior to the Flyers game that I thought Hamilton was on the right path to bursting out of his funk. As I think he is one of a few players with the potential to boost the entire team if he finds a higher gear, he continues to be on my watch list for finding a higher level of play.
The puck drops at 7pm with John, Tripp and Mike on Fox Sports Southeast.