After a couple days to recharge, the Hurricanes start an odd stretch of schedule that has a good number of off days but also sets of back-to-backs and primarily playoff caliber opponents. The remaining schedule was the subject of today’s Daily Cup of Joe.
The current five-game winning streak coupled with some favorable scoreboard watching has the Hurricanes above the playoff cut line entering action on Tuesday. The Hurricanes are currently third in the Metropolitan Division and are up one point on Penguins, one point with a game in hand on the Canadiens and a big three points over Columbus. Needing to beat only one of those teams to make the playoffs, the gap is the three over Columbus.
But the order of the day is simply to keep winning. Tuesday represents a good challenge in that regard against a Bruins team that is firmly in playoff position and has a massive 16-game point streak (12-0-4) coming into the game.
But the Hurricanes are a good hockey team too and of late have a seemingly magical ability to just find a way to win regardless of the course to get there. The Canes will almost certainly need an effort better than Saturday’s lackluster affair in Florida on Saturday, but perhaps some of the same cape-wearing heroics will be a necessary carry over.
My watch points for Tuesday’s game are here.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Boston Bruins
1) A much higher gear
As much fun as the ending and related highlights were for Saturday’s win, the game in total was an absolute clunker and will not be good enough against the Bruins. The Canes scored two quick goals against a first-time NHL goalie and then struggled mightily for the rest of the game before overtime heroics by Petr Mrazek and Sebastian Aho pulled out an undeserved win. The team loosed gassed. Hopefully two days off will right the ship. On Tuesday, I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes can find their pace early and equally importantly if the team can clean up the sloppy play with the puck in the defensive and neutral zones.
2) Generating offense
The Bruins have allowed only a single goal in their past four games and are second in the NHL right now in goals against. The Hurricanes will need a committed effort to score tonight and must do the hard work to get pucks and players to the scoring areas in front of the net. The blue line has been a difference-maker offensively of late. Tonight would be a great night for former Bruin Dougie Hamilton to find a couple soft spots in the defense and a goal or for Faulk to label another wrister for a corner of the net.
3) Special teams
Against a good team on the road, a plus or minus on special teams can often be the difference. The Bruins enter the game second in the league on the power play and 11th on the penalty kill. The Canes have been more up and down and a mixed bag on special teams. On Tuesday, I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes can get their skating legs going such that they are more likely to draw penalties (after none drawn with Saturday’s sluggish effort). And I will be watching to see which team gets the upper hand on special teams.
The puck drops at 7pm on Fox Sports Carolinas with John, Tripp and Mike.