After a four-game run against non-playoff teams and a three-game winning streak, the Hurricanes winning run was halted on the road against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night. Friday’s match up against the Washington Capitals represents another chance to match up against team currently in playoff position. As such, the game represents a good test for depth players coming off contract and AHL players trying to make a case for a 2018-19 NHL roster spot.
The biggest story going right now is the surge from the AHL brigade. After scoring a goal and an assist in his NHL debut on Monday, Warren Foegele followed it up with a goal and an assist on Tuesday. Valentin Zykov had his point streak snapped on Tuesday but still has five points in five games in an NHL uniform this season. And Roland McKeown continues to be reasonably solid in a quiet way on defense. But unfortunately for Canes fans who are focused on prospect tracking right now, Warren Foegele and Roland McKeown were returned to Charlotte presumably simply because the Checkers are trying to lock up a playoff berth.
Though maybe not as hungry as the New Jersey Devils who entered Tuesday’s game scratching and clawing or a playoff spot, the Washington Capitals represent an equal if not bigger challenge. Rounding into form in time for the playoffs, the Capitals have reeled off wins in nine of their last 10 games.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Washington Capitals
With Warren Foegele and Roland McKeown returned to Charlotte, Zykov respresents the lone chance for prospect watching on Friday (assuming no one else is recalled). The trio did generate some chances on Tuesday, so the fact that they were kept off the score sheet was not that big of a deal. That said, now established as the team’s top scoring line, seeing if/how much they can produce on the road when targeted by opposing coaches is worth watching. So on Friday, I will be watching to see if the Aho’s line can rebound and get back on the score sheet.
2) The undermanned defense
With Brett Pesce shut down for the rest of the 2017-18 season and Justin Faulk out with an injury, the Hurricanes have been down two top 4 defensemen for the past few games. The return of Roland McKeown to Charlotte would suggest that Faulk will return to the mix for Friday’s tilt in DC. On Tuesday, the blue line struggled at times and looked to be under siege for stretches of the game. Washington should similarly challenge the defense, so on Friday I will be watching to see how the Hurricanes defense holds up.
Especially with two of the three AHL call ups out of the mix again, one thing worth watching is the players chasing milestones.
–Sebastian Aho needs three goals to reach 30.
–Jaccob Slavin needs two goals to reach 10 goals and one point to reach 30.
–Haydn Fleury is still seeking his first NHL goal.
–Elias Lindholm needs three points to set a career high with 46.
4) Sebastian Aho mic’ed up and featured on Saturday’s broadcast
* Iso cam at all times on Aho, who will be mic'd up
* Sit-down interview
* Off-the-ice feature
* All in-game reports and teleprompter analysis
* Intermission interviews with linemates
— Mike Sundheim (@MikeSundheim) March 29, 2018
The puck drops at 7pm on Fox Sports Carolinas with John, Tripp and Mike.