After reeling wins of all varieties in three consecutive road wins, the Hurricanes will try to complete a rare perfect 4-0 week on the road in a 3pm Sunday start against the New Jersey Devils. (Someone go find the last time the Hurricanes went 4-0 on the road in a single week. It has to be pretty rare because less than half of weeks are four games, rarely would all four games be on the road, the simple difficulty of winning four straight and then the adder of all four games being on the road.)
But more important than considering winning rarities is just continuing to collect two points whenever given the chance. As I write this the Hurricanes are two points (adjusted for games played) behind the Penguins and three points behind the Blue Jackets who both play on Saturday night.
On Saturday on Twitter, I noted:
— Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) February 9, 2019
The Hurricanes face one of those current non-playoff teams in the New Jersey Devils on Sunday. The Devils come in with three straight losses and sit at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division standings. In addition, the Devils played on Saturday afternoon also at home, so theoretically the Hurricanes could have a small edge physically. But the Devils are not a team to be taken lightly. In two previous match ups the Hurricanes lost 2-0 and squeezed out a sluggish 2-1 win.
On the Hurricanes side, there is actually room for improvement even given the winning streak. Despite winning with completely different formulas, I would not say that either Thursday or Friday’s wins were really great efforts. That said, the key is to ride the current positive vibe and just keep finding a way to collect two points.
My watch points follow.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the New Jersey Devils
1) Afternoon energy
The Hurricanes schedule has a number of Sunday matinees. Recent such events have been positive with the Hurricanes winning the last few and generally finding a higher gear first with the odd start time. Especially with the Hurricanes playing their third game in less than four days with the early start, I will be watching see if the Hurricanes can again find their skating legs and gain the upper hand early on.
2) Best of both worlds
In Thursday’s win over the Sabres, the Hurricanes scored in bunches and overcame a lackluster effort and fits of shoddy defense. Then in Friday’s win, the defense was somewhat better but the Hurricanes struggled to generate offense tallying just a single goal before two empty-netters to seal the deal. On Sunday, I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes can tighten things up defensively and generate offense at the same time.
3) Willingness to grind one out
Both of the previous match ups were war of attrition type games where both teams seemed to neutralize the other and neither really got much going offensively. Especially the most recent game which the Hurricanes won 2-1, the event was a grinding slog through the mud on the way to an unexciting victory. Ideally the Hurricanes turn on the jets and run away from a struggling Devils team, but if that does not materialize I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes can dig down and win in the trenches. If the game goes that route, I will look to foot soldiers like Brock McGinn, Jordan Martinook, Warren Foegele, Saku Maenalanen and others to do the dirty work on the way to to a win.
The puck drops at 3pm on Fox Sports Carolinas with John, Tripp and Mike.