After a tough three-game road trip that saw the team first head west to take on two good teams and then traverse North America from north and west to south and east, the Hurricanes return home to Raleigh to play its first game during the North Carolina State Fair since a horrific traffic and parking similar event years back.
Outside the arena, here is hoping that the early 1pm start makes for safe travels. Inside the arena, the Hurricanes will look to cut a losing streak short at two games and also build on a solid 4-2-1 start.
The opponent is a Colorado Avalanche team that is also off to a strong start at 4-1-2.
My watch points for Saturday’s 1pm matinee are as follows:
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Colorado Avalanche
1) Same pace and intensity after the short layoff
After a return home, three days of home cooking and hopefully not too much North Carolina State Fair food, the Carolina will look to start what I will call the third phase of the 2018-19 season positively on Saturday afternoon against the Colorado Avalanche. Though the team seemed to hit a wall a bit in the second half of Tuesday’s loss (notably against a good team), the foundation of the Hurricanes style and success in the early going has been an aggressive, attacking style of play that dictates play, disrupts the opponent before they really get started and in the process tilts the ice into the offensive zone. On Saturday, I will be watching closely to see if the Hurricanes look rejuvenated and can get quickly back to what seems to be becoming their bread and butter.
2) Special teams
Put bluntly, the Hurricanes special teams have been a train wreck thus far in the 2018-19 season. A case could be made that the special teams were the primary cause for all of the five points not won through seven games. Entering Saturday’s game, the Hurricanes rank 28th in power play efficiently and a dead last 31st in penalty killing. Against an Avs team that has a good amount of top end talent, Saturday would be a great day not to overly test the special teams and at the same time see effective adjustments if tested. So both special teams units will be watch points for Saturday.
3) A match up day
Brind’Amour’s Laviolette-like mantra whenever asked about the opposition is to steer the focus back to his team and the need to do what they do well. But even with that ‘our game first’ mentality there is always a tactical element of match ups in NHL hockey. Especially a strong top group led by Nathan MacKinnon and last change on home ice, Saturday’s game will represent the biggest match up type opponent of the young season. Expect Jordan Staal to stand across from MacKinnon as much as possible on Saturday and for Brind’Amour to even play a selected set of five against MacKinnon’s line as much as possible. So on Saturday, I will be watching to see if Brind’Amour taking a (successful at times) page from Bill Peters’ home hockey guidebook can be implemented effectively and generate positive results.
The puck drops early at 1pm right next door to the ongoing North Carolina State Fair. Anyone who pings Canes and Coffee on Twitter with State Fair food smuggled into PNC Arena will be entered to win a prize (kidding mostly). Special bonus points will be given to anyone who gets kettle corn in (one of my personal favorites), and you are nearly a sure winner if you can get one of the monstrous $10-12 bags in to share with your section.