In a fit of odd scheduling, the Hurricanes will play their first of four games against the Pittsburgh Penguins for game #67 of the 2019-20 season. With nearly 25 percent of the Hurricanes remaining schedule against the Pens, how the Hurricanes fare in the season series could play a significant role in whether the Hurricanes see post-season action.
The Penguins are yet another team in the playoff picture but struggling a bit right now having lost seven out their last nine games including a 5-2 thrashing at the hands of the Capitals on Saturday. After playing much of the season with a makeshift lineup due to injuries, the Penguins are somewhat healthier but struggling right now to put things together.
On the Hurricanes side, the game is about trying to build on Saturday’s win. That win was not the prettiest, but it still has the potential to put a stake in the sand.
My watch points follow.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Caroling Hurricanes versus the Pittsburgh Penguins
1) The match up
With three more tilts for these teams scheduled, I will be curious to see how the teams match up. Last season, the Hurricanes looked good against the Penguins who struggled at times against the aggressive forecheck. But the Hurricanes are a different team in 2019-20 that is not so much driven by the forecheck. On Sunday, I will be watching to see if one team seems to have the upper hand in terms of style of play.
Anton Forsberg was solid in a win on Saturday. Petr Mrazek has been in net for a couple days now in practice. Nedeljkovic has not fared particularly well in either of his two starts but did play well in relief in the game in between. Assuming Mrazek does not make an early surprise appearance, the starter is a question mark. After a strong first NHL outing for 2019-20 last week, Brind’Amour elected to go right back to Forsberg in the second half of the back-to-back. It will be interesting to see what Brind’Amour does this time.
3) Best players rising up
Justin Williams had a strong game in Saturday’s win. The Aho line has generally been strong of late. On Sunday, I will be watching to see which players can step up and be heros.