Through three games on the current western swing, the Carolina Hurricanes have seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. The trip started with a rough 6-3 loss in St. Louis. After falling behind against the Coyotes and Golden Knights, the Hurricanes stormed back for two fun wins including arguably the wildest of the 2019-20 season in Ls Vegas on Saturday.
Even with a loss on Tuesday, a 2-2 mark in four road games against teams competing for playoff spots would not be bad. But with so many teams in the fray in the Eastern Conference playoff chase and generally playing well, the 2-1 mark on the road trip still sees the Hurricanes two points out of a playoff spot but with a game in hand. A win gets them back to the last wild card slot courtesy of the tiebreaker when they wake up on Wednesday in Raleigh.
The opponent is a Dallas Stars team also with much to play for. The Stars currently sit in third place in the Central Division but with a slip gap between that and the draft lottery at ninth place in the conference.
Both teams are at the stage of the season where every point matters which usually makes for hard-fought hockey games.
My watch points follow.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Dallas Stars
1) Continuation of determination
In Saturday’s win, the Hurricanes were outplayed through two periods but rose up for a feisty and determined period that was enough to get into overtime and ultimately claim a shootout win. On Tuesday, I will be watching to see if there is a carry over of that spirited effort hopefully fueled by some fun bonding time in Las Vegas afterwards. The Hurricanes have been an up and down entity of late, so finding a way to ride momentum would be a nice gain.
2) The top line
Of late, the Hurricanes have been led by huge scoring contributions from Teravainen/Aho/Svechnikov. On Tuesday, I will be watching to see if the trio continue to score in bunches and lead the way offensively.
3) In net
After a good win on Thursday, Brind’Amour went right back to Reimer on Saturday in what would seemingly be a 1A start. Reimer did not post a statement game with the late wrap-around goal to force overtime being a low point. But the team did win for the second consecutive game. For a starter that is often enough to claim the next start to ride the winning streak. But with Brind’Amour’s propensity to keep going back to Mrazek, it will be interesting to see who starts. Regardless of how it is, goaltending is important and an every-game watch point this time of year.
The puck drops at 8:30pm on Fox Sports Carolinas with John, Tripp and Mike.