After a much-needed win on Sunday over the New York Islanders to stop the bleeding, the Hurricanes tour of non-playoff match ups continues in Raleigh against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night.
With his injury in his rookie season and the NHL schedule that offers only two games per season against teams from the other conference, the game represents only the second opportunity to see Connor McDavid at PNC Arena.
From the Hurricanes side, the game represents more ice time to learn some things and build toward the 2018-19 season. Monday’s Daily Cup of Joe listed five initiatives that I hoped to see emphasized in the final 10 games. We should see at least a couple of those continue on Tuesday and also possibly another added with the call up of Valentin Zykov. The game also represents a chance to build on a win which beats grinding through a dozen games of misery on the level of Tuesday and Saturday’s bad losses.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Edmonton Oilers
1) Sebastian Aho at center
We will not know for certain until Tuesday afternoon, but I would expect Sebastian Aho’s trial at center to continue. In that regard, I will be watching primarily for two things. First is to see how he looks offensively, especially with the puck on his stick, and significantly if the chemistry between Aho and Teravainen continues with both in different positions right now. Second is to watch for how rapidly he learns and improves his play defending without the puck.
2) Valentin Zykov
Full me once, shame on you. Full me twice, shame on me. I wrote up watch points for Valentin Zykov in some detail when he was last recalled, but he was ultimately returned to Charlotte before he played. You can find that HERE.
3) Jaccob Slavin on the power play
Continuing with my who’s who from Monday’s article, I will also be watching Jaccob Slavin on the power play. With Noah Hanifin still on the shelf with a concussion, Slavin continues to see reps on the power play again in Hanifin’s slot, Slavin is admittedly not the pure version of a power play point man, but he has enough skill and also upside. As such, I will be watching to see if there are signs that this could be a role that he grows into. In the past two games, he has shown a tremendous knack for creating shooting lanes and getting pucks through to the front of the net. Hopefully that will continue both on the power play and at even strength.
4) Scott Darling (if he starts)
Someone holler if he/she has already seen an announced starting goalie. (I had a busy Monday and did not have time to hunt it down.) If Darling starts, the game represents a chance to string together something positive. His three goals against on Sunday do not stand out mathematically, but it was a decent effort for Darling and a win.
The puck drops at 7:07pm at PNC Arena.