If you are still waiting for ice to melt in your neighborhood and need a way to pass time, check out today’s Sunday Canes Chronicle with a collection of mostly external articles on Matt Duchene, Ward and the Canes goalie situation, Canes prospects at the world juniors and more, all HERE.
If you have been cooped up all weekend and are looking to break free, Sunday at 5pm might be just what you are looking for. The Hurricanes have been winning at home of late with only a small bump in the road this past Tuesday and Sunday offers another “Hurricanes Homegrown Series” night to boot.
If you are not yet familiar with the Hurricanes Homegrown Series, I recommend checking out the great write up at eatRaleigh HERE and also perusing the specifics of today’s featured beer, food, art and music HERE.
On the ice, the game is another big one for the Hurricanes just like all of them are this time of year. The Hurricanes garnered a very respectable split in a tough back-to-back set on the road in St. Louis and then Chicago on Thursday and Friday, but are still minus 1 for the week because of a lackluster home effort and loss on Tuesday. A win makes for a treading water 2-2 whereas a loss is a tough to swallow 1-3.
The opponent is the Boston Bruins who had to play and travel on Saturday night but maybe were not overly taxed in a 4-0 win against the Florida Panthers. The match up will be the third between the Canes and Bruins. In Boston to start December, the Hurricanes had a 1-0 lead in the final minute of regulation after a tight-checking, grinding affair only to give up a goal to push to overtime and then lose in a shootout. The Canes did get revenge at home when Teuvo Teravainen scored an overtime game-winner.
The Hurricanes are 3-2 in Sunday home games. The 2 most recent games have seen the Hurricanes enter the game with a losing record for the week but pull out a win to salvage things. That is exactly what the team will be hoping for when it takes the ice for Sunday’s 5pm start at PNC Arena.
‘What I’m watching’ style preview for the Hurricanes versus the Boston Bruins
1) Skating and pace but with hunger in the paint
Regardless of opponent or situation, the Hurricnaes are at their best when they skate, push the puck forward and attack with speed. That could be even more significant on Sunday night. The After playing last night, the Bruins will likely be happy to slow things down a little bit and play a grinding kind of game. The more the Hurricanes can push tempo to fast, the better their chances which is why I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes have the advantage with the day off or if perhaps not playing their third game in 4 days with travel before all 3.
On top of the skating which is the fuel, I will also be looking to see if the Canes can muster more effort to get to the crease both before (screens and traffic) and after (rebounds) the puck. While the Hurricanes were good in terms of possession and shot totals, I thought their effort to get to the dirty areas left something to be desired in Friday’s loss especially once it became clear that it was going to be a tough night to beat Hawks’ goalie Scott Darling on anything that he saw.
2) Cam Ward in #16 straight
Unless we get an afternoon surprise, Cam Ward will be making his 16th straight start. That is a full one-fifth of an NHL season with no breaks except for being pulled early once (not counteng Jorge Alves 8 seconds of glory in Tampa). If Peters was going to give Leighton a start, 1 of the road back-to-back games would have made most sense. As of now, the plan has been to ride Ward and rest him for practices. Ward was very good and made an at times sloppy defensive effort on Friday in Chicago look better than it was. He has shown some signs recently of having his level of play drop a notch or 2, but that is from a high level and so far any step down has seen a quick rebound. Nonetheless, Cam Ward and goalie situation that has generally been a positive in 2016-17 is worth watching.
3) Leaders rising up
Now only 1 game away from the midway point of the season and with a deficit to make up to get into a playoff spot, we are quickly approaching that time in the season when big players need to rise up and drive wins in big games. The Hurricanes leadership group has had some big efforts that were well-timed for needed wins. Sunday would be another such opportunity for the leaders like Staal, Ward, Skinner, Faulk and Rask to step up and lead the way to a win.
4) The Boston kid and the third pairing
The third pairing in total has had a tough time of it in recent games. Murphy has had a couple really tough games and is expected to head back to the press box in favor of Matt Tennyson because of it. I thought Hanifin played well in Chicago, but he struggled at times in the couple games before that. Noah Hanifin has played some of his best hockey against his hometown team, so here is hoping that the Bruins again boost his level of play and that the return of Matt Tennyson also helps solidify the third defense pairing.
The puck drops a little bit after 5pm but the local beer flights from Appalachian Mountain Brewery and Bold Rock Cider in addition to the regular NC beer options detailed in our PNC Arena NC beer tour with NC Beer Guys and smoked brisket with Cheerwine barbecue sauce will be available when the doors open prior to that.