The majority of articles on Canes and Coffee for the past week have had an NHL trade deadline theme to them. The most recent was part 3 of the series and looks at the Hurricanes needs to fill out their forward ranks for the 2017-18 season.
But in the middle of all of the commotion, there is still hockey to be played. On Tuesday the Hurricanes match up against the Florida Panthers. Somewhat like the Hurricanes, the Panthers have had a bumpy 2016-17 season. The trendy preseason pick to do well in the standings and then the playoffs got off to a rocky start that hit rock bottom when their coach was fired after a loss in Raleigh and left to hail a cab outside PNC Arena. And the first half of the season was mired by a rash of injuries to key players including young offensive leaders Jonathan Huberdeau, Nick Bjugstad and Aleksander Barkov. But the Panthers got healthy and rebounded with a 6-1 start in February and are currently sitting right at the playoff cut line. The Panthers enter with a 3-game losing streak which should see them playing hungry hockey.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Florida Panthers
On the Hurricanes’ side of the ledger, I am still primarily focused on evaluating players and situations with an eye for building the 2017-18 opening day roster.
1) Noah Hanifin looking for a rebound
After playing well on Friday, I thought Noah Hanifin had a ‘growing pains’ kind of game in Sunday’s loss. My Daily Cup of Joe for Monday day spelled about points of emphasis/video room work for Hanifin and also a couple other Canes players. Tuesday should represent a good challenge to put some of that work immediately to the test. It will also be interesting to see what Peters does for defense pairings. After the Hainsey trade, Hanifin was paired with Brett Pesce, but toward the end of the game, Peters went back to Slavin/Pesce pairing Hanifin with Justin Faulk.
2) More Di Giuseppe
I continue to love the brand of hockey that he is playing. I think the current version of Di Giuseppe is ever bit of a solid checking line forward, but I am anxiously watching to see if he can maintain that style of play but add a layer of scoring on top of it. He is doing the work to find himself with the puck on his stick in the offensive zone. I think it is just a matter of being able to play his fast and aggressive brand of hockey throughout his shifts but then find the ability to slow the game down when he finds the puck on his stick to be more purposeful with his scoring chances instead of just always quickly getting the puck to the net.
3) Ryan Murphy
His game has been a mixed bag so far. I actually think he has played pretty well overall in 2 games since returning to the lineup after the Hainsey trade, and I think he has been solid with the puck on his stick. But along the way, he has had a couple of those shifts that make Canes fans say “ugh!” and just be ready to give up and move on.
4) Victor Rask
After far too many games of quiet, Rask reappeared on Sunday. He had a power play goal early and then followed that up with 3-4 more good scoring chances. I will be watching to see if he can use Sunday’s strong game as a catalyst to get back on track.
The puck drops at 7:30pm on Fox Sports Carolinas with John, Tripp and Mike.