With Ottawa’s shootout loss, the Hurricanes will enter their Tuesday game against the Minnesota Wild still technically in playoff contention. At this point the miracle would require the Hurricanes to win all 4 of their remaining games and 1 of Boston or Ottawa to lose all of their remaining games. Here is hoping that the Canes win Tuesday and leave someone else to do the deed if it must be done.
Though not 100 percent finished with the 2016-17 season, the last 4 games also present more ice time to begin preparing for the 2017-18 season. Most notable in that regard will be the NHL debut of playmaking centerman Andrew Poturalski.
The game could also feature the return of Bryan Bickell who was sidelined in the fall with multiple sclerosis and has made his way back playing for the Checkers in the AHL. If he plays on Tuesday, it will be a huge testament to his determination and another great people story to add to the rich list for the 2016-17 Carolina Hurricanes’ season.
On the Minnesota side of ledger, the game will celebrate 1,000 games played for former Carolina Hurricanes’ captain Eric Staal. Despite the fact that he is across the country and in the other conference, Eric Staal continues to find his way back into Hurricanes’ circles. His run of staying healthy that enabled him to reach 1,000 games at the age of 32 is quite impressive. Consider that the 2016-17 season could be the eighth time that he has played in all 82 games and also has 2 seasons of 81 games. His low total is 70 games (not counting the shortened 2012-13 season), and his average in the 12 full seasons is 80 games played. Congratulations to Eric Staal on a great career thus far!
Back to the here and now, after being among the best teams in the league in the first half of the season, the Wild are desperately trying to right the ship before the playoffs begin. Minnesota is a meager 5-11-2 since the beginning of March with a couple extended losing streaks.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Hurricanes versus the Minnesota Wild
1) Andrew Poturalski
The latest Charlotte Checkers’ player to earn an NHL audition in 2016-17 is Andrew Poturalski. I wrote about Poturalski’s 2016-17 season and my watch points for him in more detail on Monday. The short version is that I will be watching to see if Poturalski can make things happen offensively and at the same time hold his own defensively.
2) Jeff Skinner
Per the Daily Cup of Joe article for Monday that listed Hurricanes players chasing career highs or milestones, Skinner has tied his career high for goals with 33 and just needs 1 to set a new personal best. He is also only 2 points from reaching 60 points for the first time since his rookie year. I will be watching and hoping for Jeff Skinner to continue his run and knock out some numbers.
3) Justin Faulk
He already set a career high with 17 goals, but especially for a defenseman, 20 goals is a big milestone. It will take a big game or 2, but with 4 games to go 3 goals is not impossible. I will be on the edge of my seat every time Faulk tees up a shot, especially if it is a wrister from inside the top of the face-off circles.
The puck drops a few minutes after 8pm on Fox Sports Carolinas.