For the second weekend in a row, the Hurricanes lost the first half of a back-to-back at home and will need to win on the road to salvage a split for the weekend. The trend is significant since the Hurricanes play a back-to-back every weekend for the rest of the 2019-20 season.
As far as losses go, Friday’s was not horrible. The Hurricanes generally played well, seemed to catch nothing for breaks but still clawed back to tie the game in the third period. If one wanted to find a negative, the 0 points result is front and center, and the Canes were again bitten hard by a few defensive break downs.
But this is the time of year to have a short memory and look forward. The Hurricanes are still right in the thick of the playoff hunt only two points out of the last wild card slot with three games in hand. And a win on Saturday cuts a losing streak short at two games and also sees the team with four off days to practice with the new personnel and get a few injured players closer to returning.
My watch points follow.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Montreal Canadiens
1) The top line
Offensively, the trio of Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen were lights out on Friday. Teravainen netted two goals, and the group could easily have had more. Svechnikov clanged a pipe, and Aho had a puck squibble just wide of the net. And Teravainen had at least two other good chances not counting mishandling a puck that would have been a breakaway and deciding to pass from right between the face-off circles. The top line continues to lead the way. Especially with urgency increasing, I will be watching closely to see if they can keep it up.
Despite allowing three goals and taking the loss, Anton Forsberg did his part giving the team a chance on Saturday. With the back-to-back, best guess is that the Canes turn to Alex Nedeljkovic who had a tough outing in his 2019-20 debut on Tuesday in a 4-1 loss. The team in front of him was incredibly disappointing with its ability to help him get into the game early, but at the same time Nedeljkovic did not have any answers. I would be surprised (not shocked) to see Brind’Amour go right back to Forsberg, but regardless of who is in net, the position continues to be an every game watch point with two AHLers trying to take a step up.
With the loss on Friday, match up against a non-playoff team and four days off following Saturday’s contest, this is very much an empty the tank game. As such, I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes can dig down and will their way to a much-needed win if necessary.
The puck drops at 7pm on Fox Sports Carolinas.