After what most described to me as a lackluster effort (I still have seen only the tail end of the game which is sitting on my DVR) in a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, Thursday features game two out of three in the last week playing out the string for the 2017-18 season.
In the Philadelphia Flyers, the opponent is a team that still needs a win or two to push into the playoffs, so the Flyers’ compete level will be high.
On the Hurricanes side of the ledger, the watch points continue to focus on preparing for next season.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Philadelphia Flyers
1) Sebastian Aho at center
Sebastian Aho continues to be worth watching both simply for his offensive play and push to try to reach 30 goals but also for assessing his transition to the center position that could play a critical role in building out the team this summer. On the milestone front, Aho needs two goals in the final two games to reach 30 for the season. As far as his transition to center, I think I would describe it as encouraging but also a work in progress. Aho looks comfortable with the puck on his stick as a puck distributor and does project to be exactly the playmaking center that the Hurricanes need. But his play away from the puck is still a work in progress.
2) Valentin Zykov
After a fast start out of the gate after his NHL recall, Valentin Zykov has been a bit quieter in the past few games. He has not been horrible is goal-less in his last four games. With two games to go, I will be watching to see what kind of exclamation point Zykov can put on his NHL audition.
3) Phil Di Giuseppe
In the span of a couple weeks, the outlook for Phil Di Giuseppe has changed significantly. If he the player who languished offensively for 40 games and posted a measly four points in half of a season? Or is he maybe more than that after putting up seven points in a massive four-game outburst playing with Elias Lindholm and Jeff Skinner? He has been held off the score sheet for two straight games since his scoring surge, so the last two games represent a chance for Di Giuseppe to make a stronger case that the outburst represents untapped scoring potential and not just a weird anomaly. As such, he is one of my watch points for the final two games.
The puck drops at 7pm on Fox Sports Carolinas with John, Tripp and Mike.