After a good win in Detroit coming out of the bye week, the Carolina Hurricanes have since stumbled again with two consecutive losses. The team is now 2-6 since a the recent high point in beating the Penguins 4-0 on January 4.
With it still being January, must-win is slightly overdone, but very clearly the sense of urgency is rising.
The opponent is a wayward Montreal Canadiens team that entered the season with high hopes but is now the subject of garage sale rumors surrounding who they might or might not put on the trade block. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe actually covets a top Canadiens’ player.
But regardless of Montreal’s situation, the game is very simply about two things. First is results — The Canes desperately need a win. Second is righting the ship — The Canes must quickly find a higher level of play if they are to maintain their playoff hopes that have been waning of late.
Against that backdrop, here are my watch points for Thursday’s game.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Montreal Canadiens
1) The goaltending
Might as well get it out of the way…The Hurricanes’ netminding has officially reached every-game watch point status, and today is no difference.
2) The offense
Minus Sebastian Aho who skated on Wednesday but is unlikely to return until after the All-Star break, the Hurricanes have had trouble generating chances and the goals that follow. The team has scored only once in each of its last two outings and of greater concern is the limited number of chances generated. Top offensive players like Jeff Skinner and Teuvo Teravainen need to step up and find their next streak of offense while it still matters.
The season hangs in the balance right now. If the Hurricanes do not find a way to start winning soon, they will be putting the ball on the tee for another ‘too little too late’ burst in March. If there is a spark to be lit, a lever to be pulled, a speech to be made or something else that helps spark a winning streak, now is the time for the captains like Staal, Skinner and Faulk to make it happen or for veteran leadership like Williams to stir things up as needed.
The puck drops at 7:30pm on Fox Sports Southeast (not Carolinas) with John, Tripp and Mike.