Carolina Hurricanes (20-15-7) vs New York Islanders (16-16-8)
The Carolina Hurricanes host the New York Islanders at PNC Arena tonight. This is the first meeting between the two divisional opponents and the second of a back-to-back for the Canes. The Hurricanes are coming off of a big win against the Buffalo Sabres and are sporting a modest three game win-streak. If the Hurricanes want to establish themselves as a top-tier team, they need to consistently win games against teams below them in the standings. They took care of business against the Sabres last night and have a chance to collect two more points at home tonight.
The Islanders are having a rough year by their standards, but are still a very dangerous team. They earned a 5-2 win last night and are likely to come into PNC Arena with confidence. I expect a high-energy game in front of a rowdy crowd.
Game Day By the Numbers
|5-2 W vs BUF
|5-2 W @ FLA
Jeff Skinner continues to lead the Hurricanes in their fight for a playoff spot. Albeit streaky, Skinner is having a dominant year. He is on pace for 69 points and is blazing hot. With six points over the past two games, Skinner is energizing this young team. I expect him to come out firing tonight against the Islanders.
Cam Ward is having a great season. He holds the Canes up when they are down, and bails the young team out when they have breakdowns. Ward has a SV% of .916 and a GAA of 2.30. He is consistently making the timely saves and giving his defenders the confidence they need to play aggressive hockey. Ward made his 18th straight start last night and shows no signs of slowing up. At some point, Bill Peters needs to give him a rest, but it’s hard to put a hot goaltender on the bench.
The Hurricanes’ power-play is a joke and not a funny one. Of 37 opportunities they have converted on only two. I am running out of ways to convey how bad the Hurricanes power-play has been over the last thirteen games. Their zone entries look terrible and no one is on the same page. They seem to be changing their approach slightly and moving the puck down low to find options in the slot, which admittedly has created a couple of scoring chances. However, a couple of scoring chances do not make the 2-37 easy to stomach. My suggestion: ask the refs if they can decline power-plays; ala football.
The Carolina Hurricanes’ hot streak at home continues as they are now 13-1-1 over their last fifteen games. If they continue this pace at home they would only need to earn ten points from their eighteen remaining road games to get to 96 points. That puts them solidly in the conversation for a wild-card spot.
Sebastian Aho is playing a more physical game lately, while still being able to focus on his skilled offensive game. This is promising as a lot of people questioned his ability to adjust to the NHL style of play. Aho may be on the smaller side of the NHL spectrum, but he uses every ounce to make his presence known. Watch for him to keep growing as a solid NHL’er.
How To Watch
PNC Arena: Puck Drop at 7:00 pm ET
Watch: Fox Sports Carolinas / Fox Sports Go app
Listen: 99.9 FM The Fan / WRALsportsfan.com