Finishing a quick run of three games in less than four days, the Hurricanes take on the Ottawa Senators at 1pm on Sunday. The presents the chance to finish out a perfect 4-0 week and climb back to two games above .500 after falling two games below last week. Most importantly, still a ways back of the playoff cut line, the Canes desperately need to put together an extended run of wins.
After beating a quality opponent in Columbus on Friday, the Hurricanes face an Ottawa team that is near the bottom of the NHL and comes in with six straight losses. In addition, Ottawa also plays on Saturday afternoon, so the Canes should be the more rested team despite the busy weekend.
From the Hurricanes side, the game is mostly about not taking a breath and just repeating what has generally been a strong trend.
My watch points for Sunday follow:
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Ottawa Senators
1) Repeat of the strong start
Especially with the odd start time and the busy stretch, the start could be critical. When the Hurricanes push and score early, they look like a completely different team. I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes an repeat the strong start on Friday.
2) More contributions from the depth forwards offensively
On Friday, Greg McKegg had a phenomenal 2018-19 NHL debut and was a catalyst for a fourth line that was strong. Others also had strong games in a game where the Hurricanes were balanced instead of top-heavy. With the goaltending and defense routinely holding up its end of the deal, I continue to think that scoring depth/balance is the key to turning the corner and winning more consistently. The trend in that regard is positive right now even if only for a few games. On Sunday, I will be watching to see if the forward group past Aho’s line can continue to produce.
With the odd start time and busy stretch, it seems reasonable to expect that there could be a lull here or there on Sunday. The goalie play which has been a strength of late will need to step up if pressed to paint over any brief lapses. On Sunday, I will be watching to see if the Canes goalie play can again rise to the occasion if asked.
The puck drops at 1pm on Fox Sports Carolinas with John, Tripp and Mike.