Tuesday’s game in Boston was a mixed bag. On the positive side, the Hurricanes overcame a third period deficit and picked up a point against a team that has not lost in regulation in 17 games. On the negative side, the Hurricanes blew a two-goal lead and lost a point in the process.
I actually think whether Tuesday was a positive or a negative hinges on the rest of the week. If the Hurricanes lose to Winnipeg and Nashville, Tuesday could be seen as the start of a losing streak and a much-needed point that got away. If the Hurricanes are productive in the upcoming back-to-back, then I think Tuesday gets categorized as a solid road point.
That determination starts with a game Friday at PNC Arena against the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets are one of the teams in the Western Conference who figure to have legitimate Stanley Cup hopes. But the Jets come into the game sputtering a bit with only a 4-5-1 mark in their past 10 games.
On the Hurricanes side, the team now has points in five straight games and an 8-1-1 record in their past 10 games. With another strong opponent, the Hurricanes need to tidy up their attention to detail and rebound on special teams to keep the good and improve the bad from Tuesday’s overtime loss.
My watch points follow.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Winnipeg Jets
1) Greater attention to detail
Against a Boston Bruins team that is among the best in the league right now, the Hurricanes showed they could not only hang with them but even beat them for stretches. But with a two-goal lead, the Hurricanes cracked the door open a few too many times with puck management ‘oopses’ and sure enough the Bruins pushed through the opening. The margin for error is tiny in good hockey games against good teams, and a handful of mistakes can often be the difference in a tight game. That (also see #2) is what cost the Hurricanes a point on Tuesday. On Friday against another top-tier team, I will be watching to see of the Hurricanes can eliminate the few costly mistakes.
2) Special teams
The other Achilles’ heel that has been an intermittent problem this season was special teams. On Tuesday the Hurricanes were 0 for 5 on the power play, and yielded a go-ahead shorthanded goal in the third period. Fortunately, Justin Williams rose up to pull the Canes back to even and into overtime, but that special teams deficit very nearly cost the Hurricanes points in the standings. The power play which seems to bounce up and down is in a down stretch of late. Timing would be great for a rebound with two games this weekend against top-tier teams. On Friday, I will be watching to see if a couple days of practice can spark the power play.
3) Leaders leading
On Tuesday, Sebastian Aho scored twice to post the Hurricanes to an early lead, and Justin Williams scored a late goal to get the team a point and a chance in overtime for another. This time of year, teams’ fate is often determined by how well its leaders and best players play. On Friday, I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes leaders can again step up and lead.
The puck drops at 7:39ish pm at PNC Arena allowing a little time for two national anthems.