Only one week aago, there seemed to be a good chance that when the Hurricanes played the Colorado Avalanche on March 7 that 1 or both of Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog would be gone and possibly even playing in a Hurricanes’ uniform. But the trade deadline came and went, and at least for now both players are still in Colorado.
The Hurricanes are not completely removed from playoff hopes but with the size of the miracle required to make it happen, Tuesday’s game very much has the air of a battle of 2 teams looking toward next season.
The game also features an odd run that sees the Hurricanes start and finish all 4 of their games against the 2 bottom dwellers in the Western Conference. Thus far, the Hurricanes finished 1-0-1 against Arizona and enters at 0-0-1 against Colorado.
‘What I’m watching for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Colorado Avalanche
The Hurricanes did not practice on Monday, and I have not seen anything declaring the starter for Tuesday. (Someone holler if I missed it.) Best guess is that Peters will go right back to Eddie Lack who responded to his Friday verbal lashing with a strong performance and a win on Sunday. But regardless of it is Lack or Ward, the goaltending continues to be a point of emphasis. If you did not see it last night, I posted part 2 of my Ron Francis/Bill Peters goalie chronicle from the summer of 2016 up until the present.
2) More of the same from Noah Hanifin
He notched another quiet (in a good way) effort defensively on Sunday night and has risen to the challenge since being boosted into the top 4 after the Ron Hainsey trade. After an up and down 2016-17 season, Hanifin’s recent play is very encouraging and something I continue to track closely.
3) A spark for Jeff Skinner
He missed only a couple games but has not been able to find a higher gear in 2 games since his return. With 20 games yet to go, it is time for Skinner to reignite, finish strong and see what he can post for a 2016-17 point total.
4) Jaccob Slavin
Lost in the Hurricanes’ all too familiar pre-trade deadline swoon is the play of Jaccob Slavin. He looked capable as a top and even a top 2 in the final 20-30 games of the 2015-16 season. But that was at the end of the season. And there was always a chance for a small dip in his sophomore season. But Jaccob Slavin has pretty much matched what he did last season defensively and along the way has been making significant strides offensively. On February 28, I asked, “Might the catalyst for improved Hurricanes’ scoring actually come from the blue line?” And as part of a 2-part series on Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce, I suggested that the offensive part of their games still offered significant room for growth. In the second half of the season, Slavin is gradually picking things up offensively. Stretch passes that he did not find awhile back are starting to click regularly. He is more comfortable playing with the puck on his stick when he has time and space. And more recently, he has improved his ability to find shooting lanes to get the puck past the shin guards in front of him and to the front of the net. He has been rewarded for that work with a 4-game point streak. I will be watching Jaccob Slavin simply because it is fun right now but also to keep tabs on the emerging offensive part of his game.
The puck drops at about 9pm Eastern Time on Fox Sports Carolinas with John, Tripp and Mike.