After a strong win on Friday against the New Jersey Devils, the Hurricanes will try to follow it up with a second home win on Sunday against the Oilers. With a win, the Hurricanes are 2-0 and gain ground in the playoff chase. With a regulation loss, the team disappointingly treads water with a 1-1 mark over two home games.
Put another way, the past counts little, and every two points matters.
On Sunday, the Hurricanes will face an Oilers team that is without Connor McDavid (boo!) and Zack Kassian (yay!) in an odd 4pm start after the Oilers played and traveled on Saturday. Edmonton enters the game in second place in the Pacific Division in a tightly-bunched Western Conference playoff race and with wins in three of their last four games.
With the win on Friday and a Flyers’ loss on Saturday, the Hurricanes can move back into a tie for the final Eastern Conference wild card slot importantly with a game in hand. The Canes have been up and down of late, so building a winning streak to even two and pushing back into playoff position would be a huge win.
My watch points follow.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Edmonton Oilers
1) The top line
The greatest show on ice these days continues to be Teravainen/Aho/Svechnikov. The trio did not collect a massive haul on the score sheet on Friday, but it was good nonetheless and could have had more. On Sunday, I will be watching to see if the Canes top line can continue being the best line on the ice.
2) The defense
When I think about how many grade A saves Petr Mrazek had to make on Friday, I question whether the Canes were truly better defensively or maybe just fortunate. Let’s go glass half full and consider Friday’s game a step forward defensively. Trevor van Riemsdyk has been pretty steady next to Jaccob Slavin which has been a positive. On Sunday, I will be watching to see if the Canes can play a reasonably sound brand of defensive hockey.
3) Match ups
With Connor McDavid out of the lineup and the Oilers a bit shorter on fire power, it will be interest to see if Brind’Amour goes with a shutdown match up type strategy against Leon Draisaitl with Jordan Staal’s line and tries to cherry pick some favorable match ups for Aho and company.
The puck drops at 4pm at PNC Arena.