With Friday’s 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers, the Carolina Hurricanes suddenly have a four-game winning streak and have points in six out of seven games.
No doubt, the trend is overwhelmingly positive right now. With a win, the team would match its longest winning streak at four games.
But Saturday offers a couple challenges. First, the Hurricanes will likely have to win in front of someone other than Curtis McElhinney who figures to get the second half of the back-to-back off. Second, the game features a match up against an Islanders team that has given them fits so far this season. In two games, Barry Trotz’s new way Islanders have held the Hurricanes to only two goals in two games, and the Hurricanes have only a single overtime loss point to show for the pair of games.
So in Saturday’s game, what will win out? The current momentum? Or the early season struggles against the Islanders?
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the New York Islanders
The odds on bet is that Brind’Amour will need to turn to someone other than Curtis McElhinney in the second half of the back-to-back. Petr Mrazek has been practicing, but it is not clear if he is an option. Most likely, the team goes back to Scott Darling. As such, goaltending is at the top of my watch list for Saturday’s game.
2) Another round of depth scoring
Friday’s win was fueled by a massive break through night for Lucas Wallmark’s line that saw Jordan Martinook net a hat trick with line mates Wallmark and Svechnikov picking up five assists. Can that line find the score sheet again? Or maybe even better, can another source of depth scoring emerge? I am on record from Friday’s recap as thinking that Faulk could be ready to break through on the score sheet. With Victor Rask now with a couple tune up games under his belt, could his line be next to step up? Regardless, the team needs to keep finding alternate sources of scoring, so that will be a watch point on Saturday.
3) Forcing the game to the slot
In both of the two previous losses to the Islanders, the Hurricanes did fine in terms of puck possession and shot totals. But both losses had some old Hurricanes in the sense that the team too much settled for a high volume of low percentage shots against a Barry Trotz-coached team that did a good job of funneling play to the outside. On Saturday, I will be watching to see if the Hurricanes settle too much for the outside or if instead they force the puck to more dangerous scoring areas.
The puck drops at about 7pm on Fox Sports Carolinas with John, Tripp and Mike.