Thoughts and prayers go out to the Humboldt Broncos and the team’s hockey community after the horrific news about the team’s bus crash on Friday.
For the ninth consecutive year, the last spring tailgating opportunity will be in early April and without playoff hockey. A disappointing 2017-18 Carolina Hurricanes season concludes with a final home match up against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday at PNC Arena. Then we get the usual round of player and coach exit interviews on Monday before an offseason with arguably a record volume of uncertainty for the franchise begins.
My watch points for the game focus primarily on player milestones that would offer consolation prizes in a game that is otherwise meaningless for the Hurricanes.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Tampa Bay Lightning
1) Sebastian Aho – 30 goals
With his goal on Thursday night in Philadelphia, Sebastian Aho reached 29 goals and potentially setting the stage to reach 30 goals in front of home fans in the finale. That makes Aho the biggest milestone-related watch point in Saturday’s game.
2) Nicolas Roy – Game #1
Nicolas Roy will be making his NHL debut in the season finale which is a milestone in itself and a great chance to get at least an initial read on another prospect in NHL action.
3) Jeff Skinner – 50 points
Jeff Skinner has had a down year statistically in 2017-18 relative to 2016-17 and other seasons, but he does enter the finale only a single point away from reaching 50 points for the fifth time of his career.
4) Justin Williams – 50 points
Like Jeff Skinner, Justin Williams needs only a single point to reach 50 points on the season. If Williams reaches 50 points, it would be the sixth time in his career and his third time in a Hurricanes uniform.
5) Jaccob Slavin – 10 goals
It would take a big night, but with two goals Jaccob Slavin could hit double digits for goals for the first time in his career.
6) Derek Ryan – 40 points
With two points on Saturday, a surging Derek Ryan would reach 40 points. He already has a career high, but 40 points would be a nice milestone and also boost his resume for his next contract.
7) Haydn Fleury – Goal #1
Playing in the last game of his rookie season, Haydn Fleury is still seeking his first NHL goal, so he along with Nicolas Roy present two chances to see a player’s first goal.
The puck drops at 7:07pm at PNC Arena.