After a lackluster 2-1 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators on Friday, the Hurricanes will wrap up their preseason slate against the Washington Capitals on Sunday.
The preseason is overrated as an indicator for success early in the regular season, but as long as the game must be played, the Canes might as well dial things up a notch.
My watch points follow.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Washington Capitals
1) Improved intensity, crispness and attention to detail
On Wednesday in Nashville, the Hurricanes were outplayed by a fairly wide margin. With most of the NHL players out of the Hurricanes lineup, that result maybe was to be expected. But on Friday, the Hurricanes iced a lineup that had much of the NHL group. That group did have a lead and push to overtime, but I thought the game was ‘meh’ at best and had way too much sloppy. The carry over from preseason to regular is such that maybe it does not matter, but I would still prefer to see more intensity and a cleaner effort in the final preseason game.
In that same vein, I exited Friday’s game thinking about which problems bothered me the most looking forward to the regular season. Some sloppiness especially from fringe players was not the greatest concern. And with some number of decent chances, the lack of scoring was not the highest concern. And a few key players actually played well. But what stood out to me most was the struggles on the Slavin/Hamilton pairing. As I noted in my game recap, that duo actually struggled together during a significant chunk of the 2018-19 season (the October/November part when the team was losing). They rebounded only after being separated for awhile before eventually finding their way back together. So more than anything else on Friday, I would like to see Slavin/Hamilton rebound (if they are in fact in the lineup) to build some rhythm and confidence heading into games that cound.
3) More forecheck
On a 2018-19 team that was probably light on raw scoring talent, the Hurricanes boosted scoring by generating chances across the board from a strong forecheck. That forecheck has not been able to reach its peak in the past few games. As such, I would like to see the team find that higher gear on Sunday and enter the regular season with a head of steam.
The puck drops at 1:37pm at PNC Arena as part of the Caniac Carnival.