After consecutive home wins coming out of the All-Star break, the Hurricanes laid an egg in game three against the Detroit Red Wings. Since then the Hurricanes have tried and failed twice to right the ship. On Sunday, another lackluster effort met the losing fate that it deserved and also a post-game tirade from Coach Bill Peters. Tuesday offered a bunch of talk about changes after the weekend losses but only minor shuffling of bottom lineup spots and another loss (at least in overtime for a consolation point).
So Friday sets up as try #3 at turning things back around. This time, more significant changes seem imminent. Peters has already stated that Scott Darling will start in net, and by midday Friday, the team should have one if not two AHL recalls in tow to replace Marcus Kruger and Josh Jooris who were put on waivers on Thursday.
With the fun of losses and the precious stretch of home hockey slipping away without much progress, Friday’s game again offers a high degree of urgency.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Vancouver Canucks
1) Scott Darling
With Scott Darling back in net, goaltending jumps from its usual #2 slot up to #1. With the team sputtering and Cam Ward seemingly coming down from his hot streak, the timing is ripe for Darling to find his game, take the reins and become the goalie that the Hurricanes thought they had acquired in April. It is hard to know what to expect from Darling at this point. His last outing which was the 4-1 loss to Detroit was tough to read in terms of his play because the team in front of him was atrocious that night. Regardless, he enters the game still trying to find a higher gear and is worth watching because of how significant it would be if he does.
2) The reinforcements and Peters’ use of them
As I write this late Thursday night, we do not yet know who the Hurricanes will recall to replace Marcus Kruger and Josh Jooris or where they will slot into the lineup. But with the Hurricanes needing some kind of spark right now, I will be watching the new players closely and also monitoring how much and in what situations Peters uses them.
The Hurricanes offense, especially at even strength, has seemingly hit a low point for the 2017-18 season at exactly the wrong time. Will they bounce up off the floor in time to salvage the season, or will the team’s scoring woes be part of a final crash into the ground that ends the team’s playoff hopes? Like the goaltending, the trend is negative right now and worth watching for signs of life because of its significance.
The puck drops at 7:37pm at PNC Arena for the sixth straight home game on the Hurricanes’ “You Can Play” / “Hockey Is For Everyone” night.