If you showed up looking for the recap for yesterday’s game, you can find that HERE.
After consecutive road losses, the Carolina Hurricanes entered a back-to-back set against the Washington Capitals desperately needing to win at least one out of two games. With a huge road win on Thursday in Washington, D.C, the Hurricanes have accomplished that already and will seek to do even better with a win or overtime loss on Friday.
With the Hurricanes pushing back up into the final Eastern Conference playoff spot and having only two games remaining before their bye week, now is not the time to exhale and be satisfied. Now is the time to empty the tank to try to build a small lead over the teams chasing them.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Washington Capitals
1) The lineup
The game could offer some interesting personnel decisions for Coach Bill Peters. Lee Stempniak has been practicing, is said to be ready to go and was expected to play one of the two games against Washington. Since he did not play on Thursday, he seems like to make his season debut on Friday. Derek Ryan was injured late in Thursday’s game and did not return. His availability for Friday’s game was not known but could open up the slot needed to get Stempniak into the lineup. Brett Pesce, who was injured in practice on Thursday and did not play Friday, is another question mark. Finally, after a stellar outing and a big win on Thursday, might Peters go right back to Scott Darling in net? Best bet is that Peters sticks to the original plan to split the starts such that Ward plays on Friday but then that Peters goes right back to Darling for the pre-bye week finale on Sunday.
2) Energy level especially on the blue line
With Pesce out of the lineup and a close game on the road on Thursday, Peters used the third pairing of Klas Dahlbeck and Haydn Fleury lightly and leaned heavily on his top three defensemen of Jaccob Slavin, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Justin Faulk. Van Riemsdyk hit a season high for ice time. Slavin came really close to hitting a high too with his whopping 27+ minutes of ice time. Justin Faulk also played a bunch. On Friday, I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes in total but especially the defensemen can find their skating legs or if instead they look a step slow.
3) A repeat of Thursday’s performance defensively
After a run of inconsistent hockey defensively of late, the Hurricanes put together a more solid effort in Thursday’s win. The effort did allow a decent volume of shots but avoided break down type scoring chances and gave goalie Scott Darling a chance. On Friday, I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes can muster a repeat performance.
4) A desperate mentality despite a slight decrease in desperation
Hopefully, Thursday’s win does not cause the team exhale ever so slightly and take their foot off the gas. This is another good game for the leadership to rattle the saber a bit to make sure that everyone stays amped up and shows up ready to do whatever it takes to win more points in the standings. Especially after having played the night before and won, I will be watching closely to see if the Hurricanes show up with enough of a physical edge and willingness to outwork the Capitals to get results.
The puck drops at 7:37pm at PNC Arena.