After another disappointing effort resulting in a 6-3 thrashing at the hands of the Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues, the Hurricanes will again seek to rebound and chart a course upward.
Per today’s Daily Cup of Joe that had a ‘state of the Canes’, I am on record as thinking that this team will need to find a higher gear to emerge from the playoff dog fight with a post-season berth. But at this time of year, things can also just be as simple as finding a way to get two points in the next game. Either of those sides of the coin has the Canes seeking an important win in Arizona on Thursday night.
The Arizona Coyotes enter the game in the middle of the playoff hunt and currently above the cut line but also trying to right the ship after a continued slide. Arizona is only 2-5-3 since January 9 including a 3-0 loss to the Canes on January 10.
As is often the case this time of year the game features two opponents who desperately need the points.
For the Hurricanes, Thursday’s game already marks the second ‘need a big rebound’ game in only four games since the All-Star break. The team responded well after a disappointing loss to Vegas with a quality win over Vancouver. The Canes will try to do the same after a disappointing loss to St. Louis on Tuesday.
My watch points follow.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Arizona Coyotes
1) Another rebound
When this appears regularly in the watch points, it means a team is a bit inconsistent. I would say that is a fair characterization of the current version of the Hurricanes that has been up and down. After a sloppy effort on Tuesday, I will be watching to see how the Hurricanes respond in the next game.
2) Attention to detail on defense and with puck management
A key contributor in Tuesday’s loss was the Hurricanes lack of attention to detail in terms of defensive coverage and puck management. That familiar theme saw Blues’ players alone in front of the net as a regular theme in the goal highlights. Part of this is the defensemen, but in recent games floating defensive play by the forwards has also been front and center. Though consistently better play defensively continues to be elusive, I will be watching for it again on Thursday.
3) Leadership and heroes
Right about now, the Hurricanes could use a player or two to step up and lead the way. Justin Williams has offered some instant heroics in the shootout. Sebastian Aho seems to be heating up offensively. Ideally top half of the roster players lead the way, but it is that time of year where any and all offers for heroics are accepted. Especially if Svechnikov sticks on that top line, I will be watching to see if they can lead the way. But as noted above, anyone who is on the ice is a candidate for leading the way in increasingly big games down the stretch.
The puck drops at 9pm on Fox Sports Carolinas with John, Tripp and Mike.