After Saturday’s home loss to the Philadelphia Flyers that marked the second straight debilitating home loss, the Carolina Hurricanes still have 11 games remaining in the 2017-18 season. Right now, that feels like about 10 too many, but with no possibility of just waving a white flag at the remainder of the season the team and the part of the fan base that has not yet been able to detach must trudge through 11 more games.
It starts with a match up against the New York Islanders in Brooklyn on Sunday night. With both teams sputtering right now, the game shapes up as a battle for last place in the Metropolitan Division and also for draft lottery positioning.
Bigger picture, the game represents another try for the Hurricanes to try to take a step in the direction of righting a ship that has been taking on water of late.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the New York Islanders
1) Determination not tentativeness
After couple horrible third periods at home this week, some amount of self doubt seems inevitable heading into Sunday’s game. Ideally, the Hurricanes will use frustration from two tough losses to fuel determination and help the team find a higher gear. But with the potential to just become tentative, this is something I will be watching from the outset on Sunday night against the Islanders.
2) A continuation of the blue line offense
One positive from Saturday’s loss was a decent game offensively for the blue line. Noah Hanifin stepped up into the play and had a good scoring chance early in the first period and then two even better chances on a close range shot and a rebound later in the first period. Jaccob Slavin was similarly involved offensively and also rewarded on the score sheet with a goal and an assist. Slavin collected the assist on Jordan Staal’s goal when he got a shot through to the front of the net for Staal’s deflection goal. Then Slavin collected his own goal late. One of the things that continues to be missing from the Hurricanes young blue line is the ability to generate offense. Hanifin took strides in this regard early in the 2017-18 season but has slowed a bit of late. Slavin surged offensively late in the 2016-17 season and has been decent in terms of offensive production in 2017-18 when considering his lack of power play ice time but ideally has another gear in that regard. On Sunday, I will be watching if the Canes blue line can build on Saturday’s game offensively.
3) Signs of life in the face of adversity
More than anything, I will be watching for signs of life and a response in the face of adversity. As noted at the beginning of this preview, the rest of the schedule cannot just be canceled. As such, 11 games seems like a bunch right now. Can the team pull it together and rebound?
The puck drops at 5pm on Fox Sports Carolinas with John, Tripp and Mike.