From the category of ‘no rest for the weary’ the Carolina Hurricanes will tote their 3-game losing streak into arguably the worst possible situation on Monday. The Hurricanes play a road game against the surging Washington Capitals who have not lost in regulation since December 27.
The Hurricanes do need to get things back on track and push back into the win column as soon as possible obviously, but I am approaching this game cautiously. At a minimum, it would be some relief to see the Hurricanes at least keep moving in the right direction in terms of level of play. On that note, the Hurricanes did play better in Saturday’s loss on a number of fronts but still lost out to sub-par goaltending and intermittent lack of attention to details.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Hurricanes versus the Washington Capitals
1) Improved attention to details
The Washington Capitals have offensive fire power similar to the Pittsburgh Penguins. If the Hurricanes are again sloppy, the potential for another 7-1 thumping exists. I will be watching closely to see if the Hurricanes can manage the puck better especially maneuvering out of their own end and through the neutral zone. And I will be watching closely to see if the Hurricanes can tighten things up defensively. Playing a tighter game will be critical to any kind of sustained winning streak that includes the road.
2) Cam Ward
After Saturday receiving his first game off since December 3, I will be watching to see if Ward can reset mentally after Friday’s frustrating loss and look fresh and rejuvenated. With nothing else working yet in terms of a backup, Ward is absolutely critical to any playoff push in the second half of the season. So on Monday, I will be watching to see how Ward looks and also for composure after Friday night’s incident that saw him clobber Patric Hornqvist with his blocker out of frustration.
3) The lineup
Either Monday afternoon if the Hurricanes do a morning skate or otherwise when tuning in for the TV broadcast, I will be curious to see what Coach Bill Peters does with the lineup. Saturday saw Hanifin, Tennyson and Teravainen come out and Murphy, Dahlbeck and Rattie draw in. I will be surprised if Rattie does not play on Monday because of his strong game on Saturday. I will similarly be surprised if Ryan Murphy stays in after a really rough outing on Saturday. I could go either way on Dahlbeck. In addition to the in/out decisions, I will also be curious to see if Peters does any line tinkering.
Monday would be a huge win to salvage something at the end of the 4-game gauntlet run, but I think there are gains to be made in terms of style of play even if the Capitals are just too much.
The puck drops a little bit after 7pm on Fox Sports Carolinas with John, Tripp and Mike.