The Carolina Hurricanes start a Western Conference road trip on Monday against the Vancouver Canucks. The trip takes them to Vancouver to play the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton to take on the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary to take on the Calgary Flames, and Phoenix to take on the Phoenix Coyotes. It is four games in six nights for the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Vancouver Canucks are the Carolina Hurricanes first opponent on the trip. The Canes lost to the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 back on December 1. Special teams will be the key factor in this one. Vancouver is in the bottom six of the NHL in powerplay, along with the Carolina Hurricanes, but the Canucks have the league’s best penalty kill. They’ve killed penalties at a rate of 89.2% this year. The Carolina Hurricanes are going to need to be able to kill off the weak Canuck power plays, and they need to at least get something to work on the man advantage. If the Hurricanes can get their special teams rolling, they will stand a much better chance of coming out of Vancouver with a win.
The Edmonton Oilers are the second team on the Carolina Hurricanes road trip. The Canes play the Oilers on Tuesday. The Oilers find themselves at the bottom of the Western Conference. They are off to another disappointing season, but have played a lot better lately. They are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, including an 8-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche. The Oilers offense has really stepped up behind the elite play of Taylor Hall. The key to this game will be shutting down the high-flying Oilers offense. They will need to take players like Taylor Hall, David Perron and Jordan Eberle out of the game. If they can do that, it will open doors for the Canes to score on the very inconsistent defense and goaltending.
The third stop on the trip is in Calgary on Thursday night. The Calgary Flames are off to a poor start to the season. They are the second worst team in the Western Conference standings. This is a team in rebuilding mode, so it will be important for the Carolina Hurricanes to make relatively easy work with this team. The Flames are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games, but two of those wins have come in thr shootout. The Carolina Hurricanes get two nights off before taking on the Flames. A well-rested team should be able to put down the Calgary Flames with relative ease.
The final stop on the Carolina Hurricanes road trip is in Phoenix to take on the Phoenix Coyotes. The Coyotes have had a strong year so far. They have a 16-8-5 record as of December 8. The Coyotes’ super hot start has cooled down though. They are just 3-4-3 in their last 10 games. The key to this game will be scoring first. The Coyotes have not lost a game this year when they score first. It’ll be important for the Carolina Hurricanes to get on the board first in this one. They need to come out of the gates with a lot of energy, and get one past the Coyotes before Phoenix can establish their game.
I think the Carolina Hurricanes need to get at least two wins on this road trip to keep pace in the Metropolitan Division. I think the games against the Oilers and the Flames will be big games for the Canes, showing if they can beat down an inferior opponent. The games against the Canucks and Coyotes will be challenging for the Carolina Hurricanes. I think it will be a good road trip for the Hurricanes. They’ll be able to build on some strong performances out West.