I will be away from Canes hockey for something more important from Friday night through mid-day Sunday, so I am trusting the neighborhood Coffee Shop to chime in with a recap and notes later tonight. There will be a placeholder post up before the end of the game.
Coming off a much-needed win that cut a losing streak short at two games, the Hurricanes are right back on the ice in Raleigh on Friday night.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe highlights the Hurricanes comfort level and success playing fast-paced up and down hockey in the middle of the rink. Especially once they were down a couple goals and wanted to open things up, the Toronto Maple Leafs were a willing participant in such a game. Friday’s opponent, the St. Louis Blues, will not be. The Blues have speed and skill, but they also bring some of the rugged and physical that is more prevalent in the Western Conference and are more than happy to play quite a bit of the game in physical battles for puck possession on the walls.
Especially playing a back-to-back against a rested team, the challenge will be a significant one for the Hurricanes.
‘What I’m watching’ for in the Carolina Hurricanes versus the St. Louis Blues
1) Momentum/carry over
After a sluggish couple of games, especially offensively, the Hurricanes broke through in a big way on Thursday. The fourth liners were the headliners but Teuvo Teravainen, Elias Lindholm and Victor Rask broke droughts at the forward position. Haydn Fleury and Trevor van Riemsdyk had a confidence building game. And others including Sebastian Aho found their way onto the score sheet. The downside of a back-to-back with travel is the physical disadvantage. But the upside can be the ability to carry momentum if the night before was a good one. I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes can carry momentum from Thursday and start strong.
2) Battle of wills to dictate style of play and willingness to put on the hard hats
On the one hand, the Hurricanes will want to steer the game to the middle of the ice such that it is a skating game with pace. Ideally, the Hurricanes dictate play and spend as much time as possible playing their brand of hockey. On the other hand, there must also be a willingness to put on the work boots and win battles on the walls. This game is one for Jordan Staal to shine and also a good fit for the fourth line, but there is also a need for the entire roster to step up in terms of engaging physically.
3) Cam Ward
Lost in the three goals allowed on a night when the team in front of him barely showed up was how well Cam Ward played in his season debut against the Edmonton Oilers. As a backup, Ward should get the benefit of always being fresh and eager, but with that comes the long layoffs that make it impossible to establish a rhythm. As he plays his second game as a backup after a long 10-day layoff, I will be watching Ward to see if his level of play is benefiting from being fresh or being hurt by the lack of work.
The puck drops at about 7:37pm at PNC Arena.