Carolina Hurricanes: In desperate need of a win over Pittsburgh

RALEIGH, NC - FEBRUARY 23: Carolina Hurricanes Defenceman Haydn Fleury (4) and Pittsburgh Penguins Left Wing Jake Guentzel (59) fight for a puck along the boards during a game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Carolina Hurricanes at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC on February 23, 2018. Pittsburgh defeated Carolina 6-1. (Photo by Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NC - FEBRUARY 23: Carolina Hurricanes Defenceman Haydn Fleury (4) and Pittsburgh Penguins Left Wing Jake Guentzel (59) fight for a puck along the boards during a game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Carolina Hurricanes at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC on February 23, 2018. Pittsburgh defeated Carolina 6-1. (Photo by Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

The 2018/19 season is beginning to head into familiar territory for the Carolina Hurricanes. The team continues to flit between strong performances and desperate ones, compiling a disappointing 14-14-5 record and frustrating Canes fans everywhere. Tonight, the team has a chance to put that right.

The 4-1 loss to Detroit on Thursday was the Carolina Hurricanes’ seventh loss in nine games, on the heels of four wins in five that inflamed the passions of the Canes’ fanbase and gave supporters of the team hope that perhaps this is to be the year where the franchise’s horrible playoff drought is ended. A win over the Pittsburgh Penguins is only the start of what the Carolina Hurricanes need to do to repair the damage done to their season over the last fortnight.

Coach Rod Brind’Amour could start by finally caving to fans, and giving rookie scoring sensation Andrei Svechnikov his chance to shine. Still being awarded an average of just 14:49 of ice time per game, despite recent increased ice time, Svechnikov is on a four-game point streak, which included four goals, and has been the one standout player for the Canes over the last few games. Brind’Amour is clearly sticking to a development plan with Svech, but everything the kid does is magic, and you can only hold back these talented youngsters for so long. Svech is ready for top six minutes, and it’s laughable that players such as Jordan Martinook and Brock McGinn receive the same average ice time as him.

We also need to see more solid goaltending from the Canes. Curtis McElhinney is due to start the game, his first start since December 5. Will he be rusty, or well-rested? From a Canes perspective, we need a fully-healthy, on-form McElhinney to stand any chance of grabbing the two points.

The Penguins come into tonight’s game with a 17-12-6 record, and riding Jake Guentzel‘s hot form. He has 19 points in his last 17 games, and gives Sidney Crosby one of the best wingers he’s had in his NHL career so far. The Penguins have a solid defense, good center depth, and experience. Few teams are harder to stop scoring, with their 11th-rated powerplay, and harder to break down with the extra man, as the Pens are 6th on the PK this season. Make no mistake, this is a tough game, and the pressure is all on Coach Rod and his team.

Next. Canes in need of serious help. dark

We would love the Carolina Hurricanes to come flying out of the blocks and surprise us – but they are going up against one of the best teams in the league, and no amount of Andrei Svechnikov or Sebastian Aho is surely going to be able to stop them.

Prediction: Hurricanes 1-5 Penguins