An early Happy New Year Caniacs!
2019 was the best year of the decade for Canes hockey, and the current trajectory with a young team suggests that the next decade will feature a much heavier dose of that same hockey goodness!
After three consecutive losses coming off of a strong 4-0-1 road trip, the Hurricanes desperately needed a win to avoid giving back all that was gained on the long road trip. And with a game against the rival Capitals in the middle of the holiday season, the game meant a lot to the Caniac faithful too. And right on target, the Hurricanes pulled out an exciting 6-4 win over Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.
Because of the need to reverse momentum starting a season long seven-game home stand, that win was bigger than the two points. Next up is the second of seven at home trying to build a gap above the playoff cut line.
The foe is a Montreal Canadiens team that has lost three out of four at the end of a long road trip that concludes with tonight’s game. The odd trip bookended the Christmas break that saw the Canadiens return home but not play there. Here is hoping that the Habs are still a bit road weary playing their third game in four nights all with travel before finally returning to Montreal for a home game.
On the Hurricanes side, I keep chirping for the need to at some point clean things up and play a sounder brand of hockey heading into the second half of the season when good teams usually tighten things up. But the winning formula thus far has been more Wild West and scoring so far in 2019-20, so with priority one being collecting points at home, maybe best is to hope for another fun 6-4 affair.
My watch points follow.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Montreal Canadiens
Staal’s power forward line has been the team’s most consistent in recent times. Especially at home where Brind’Amour can more so dictate match ups, this line should be front and center lining up against the other teams’ best and also trying to provide scoring. I will be watching to see if this trio can continue to lead the way.
2) The second pairing on defense
In the win against Washington, Slavin/Hamilton were phenomenal chipping in a goal and also playing nearly flawless hockey defensively. But the second pairing has had its struggles in the past few games. Joel Edmundson who has generally been solid, had his worst game of the year in the loss to the Rangers last Thursday. Brind’Amour elevated Jake Gardiner into his slot to start the Capitals game but ultimately reverted back. On Wednesday, I will be watching to see if the second defense pairing can get back on track.
3) Scoring in bunches
In the last three losses, the Canadiens have surrendered six, five and four goals, so keeping the puck out their net has been a problem recently. The winning version of the Canes of late has been scoring in bunches. Especially with the New Year’s celebration following the game, I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes can again score in bunches and generate another high scoring, fun win.
The puck drops at 7pm at PNC Arena.