Despite the long odds, the Carolina Hurricanes keep playing games like they matter. The most likely outcome of this effort is that the Canes will be on the wrong side of the playoff cut line and near the bottom of the list of non-playoff teams in the draft. Mathematically, the the 17th – 19th place that the Canes are mostly likely to finish in is the worst. But I am fine with this for 2 reasons. First, I just cannot root for my team to lose. It is just feels too wrong. Second and maybe more significantly, I think what the Canes do in this final stretch for the 2015-16 season could have a strong carry over to next season, and drafting 1-3 slots lower is worth it.

Tuesday’s match up against the Islanders is a quick rematch from the Canes 4-3 overtime loss on Saturday. That game saw the Canes play a decent game after a slow start but offer up a couple too many ‘gimmes’ to an Isles team that had played the night before and came in struggling. A soft goal that climbed up Eddie Lack’s stick and over his shoulder pushed the Isles to a 1-0 lead, and then Justin Faulk had his shot go off of Kulemin and behind Faulk for a breakaway goal. 2 goals is too many to gift a good hockey team even if they are struggling. The Canes did surge back to a 3-2 lead and picked up an overtime point, but a couple fewer mistakes probably nets a win.


Here is what I will be watching for Tuesday’s game:


1) Hanifin/Pesce against Tavares’ line

If Coach Bill Peters keeps the lines the same, I will be watching to see how Hanifin/Pesce matches up against Tavares line. It is not certain, but best guess is that the Isles will steer those players away from Slavin/Hainsey. This will be a big test for the young pairing which is still working to develop chemistry.


2) Justin Faulk

Tuesday will be his fourth game since returning from a long layoff due to injury. He has looked a bit rusty through 3 games. It would be great to see him settle in and get back to his highest level of play for the last couple weeks of the season.


3) Chris Terry

After 5 consecutive games with a point, he was held scoreless on Sunday. As a player pushing for a new contract, I will be watching to see if he can extend his run of strong play or if 5 games was the limit.


4) Anything new?

With the Canes still winning and barely clinging to life for the 2015-16 season, Coach Bill Peters is still playing to win. The lineup has featured a shuffling mix of AHL call ups auditioning for the future, and the injuries and trades at forward already inserted a number of depth players into bigger roles. But past that, Peters has clearly not started chucking hockey games in the name of try outs. Good for him. It will be interesting to see what new combinations, if any, we see in the last 2 weeks.


The puck drops at about 7pm on Fox Sports with John, Tripp and Michelle.


Go Canes!

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