On Sunday, it was announced that the Carolina Hurricanes had recalled Warren Foegele from the Charlotte Checkers. He would be making his NHL debut on Monday if he steps into the lineup as anticipated. With Valentin Zykov scorching hot in three games since his recall only a week ago, Foegele as more excitement for the Caniac faithful who are still tuning in down the stretch for the 2017-18 season.
The game also represents a chance for the Hurricanes for the third straight time in their fourth of four straight games against teams destined for the draft lottery before the competition steps up a notch starting on Tuesday.
In Saturday’s match up between the same two teams, the Hurricanes won in odd fashion being on the winning side of one team winning the possession shot metric battle but the other team winning the game by a wide margin. The Hurricanes benefited from loose defensive play against and some finishing and saw Cam Ward make an equally ‘iffy’ defensive effort look better than it was.
Against that backdrop, here are my watch points for Monday’s rematch in Raleigh.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Ottawa Senators
1) Warren Foegele
He was the subject of today’s Daily Cup of Joe where I discussed his skill set and audition in some detail.
The shorter version is that I will be curious to see where Peters slots him (if in fact he does draw into the lineup) as a starting point. From there, my top watch points will be his read/react and positional ability on the forecheck and in the neutral zone.
Brock McGinn version 1.0 who plays a somewhat similar brand of hockey without the puck struggled in his NHL debut playing a heat-seeking missile brand of hockey that too often failed to forecheck through passing lanes and too often got in too deep/too late when the situation was better for just playing sound positional hockey and living to fight another day. So in that regard, I will be watching for Foegele to be fast and aggressive on the forecheck but also to read and recognize situations when that is the right play and when it is not.
In addition, I will be watching to see how Foegele looks on the penalty kill if he plays shorthanded and also what he brings offensively.
2) Valentin Zykov
Not to be forgotten is Valenting Zykov’s audition which is only three games old. He has been lights out in terms of offensive production with two goals and two assists and has not stood out in a bad way at all in terms of defensive play, ability to match NHL pace or any thing else for that matter. He should line up with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen again which makes most simply for something fun to watch right now in addition to evaluating Zykov for the 2018-19 roster.
3) The blue line
Minus Brett Pesce and Justin Faulk, the blue line is a bit undermanned right now. But excuses aside, the loose play of the Hurricanes defensively continues to be a concern. I thought Ward made the team look significantly better than it was defensively on Saturday, and that with a lesser night from Ward, the game could have been another ugly loss. Much of the group that is out there is very much playing for either a roster spot at all (McKeown, Dahlbeck) or a claim to a top 4 slot for next season (Hanifin, Fleury). On Monday, I will be watching to see which blue-liners can find a higher gear defensively and stake a claim for the 2018-19 season.
4) Trevor van Riemsdyk with Jaccob Slavin?
In addition and as an aside, with the blue line depleted on the right side anyway, I would like to see Trevor van Riemsdyk log significant ice time with Jaccob Slavin. For whatever reason, the team seems to be operating from a starting point that Faulk, Fleury and Hanifin are all competing for top 4 ice time (with Slavin and Pesce already inked in), but for whatever reason van Riemsdyk stays slotted in the third pairing. Van Riemsdyk has been solid in the third pairing and has played an important role in providing a stable situation first for Haydn Fleury transitioning to the NHL and then for Noah Hanifin sliding down into the third pairing and growing offensively. But with the team thus far unable to find a solid combination to fill out the second pairing in my opinion, I do not see why van Riemsdyk should not at least be considered. He has arguably been the team’s most consistent defensemen this year, and while there are no guarantees that he could do the same in a top 4 role, it is at least worth considering as the team looks forward to the 2018-19 season.
The puck drops at 7:07pm at PNC arena with the opportunity to see a young player’s NHL debut.