There’s no way to say it other than the fact that things are going to get very weird for the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday night.
As the Hurricanes prepare to take on the Nashville Predators there are far too many variables for them to really make any lean one way or another. Nashville has been pretty good this season and have a respectable record in the last few games. However, they’re winless at home in their last three and have three goals in as many games.
Carolina, on the other hand, just got done humiliating the Washington Capitals Tuesday night in a major win. Goaltenders Cam Ward and Justin Peters are both killing it in their last few outings and are about to make December the best month of either of their careers. Forward Jeff Skinner is back from injury and has scored points in bunches.
There’s another side to this. Nashville is a really good hockey team and are much better than paper makes it seem. Goaltender Marek Mazanec was ridiculous in November, earning Rookie Of The Month. Captain Shea Weber is a dangerous shooter with one of the better percentages on the team. It’s just a shame he’s listed as “doubtful” with an eye injury.
Further complicating things is Hurricanes captain Eric Staal reported to be having “flu like symptoms.”
This all makes the Hurricanes’ night very weird. How does head coach Kirk Muller plan for a really good team that’s been faltering lately with a lineup that nobody can really pin down on any given night? Yes, Carolina’s game has been on the rise of late, but has it done so consistently? Their power play is back in the toilet, dropping to a 12.5 percent. They’re .182 when trailing after the first period and .091 when behind after two. Quickly translated, that means they let opponents walk all over them.
This didn’t happen Tuesday in Washington as the Hurricanes flat out dominated the Capitals for 60 solid minutes. More flip side shows that Tuesday’s takeover was an anomaly. Carolina has almost never run the table on an opponent. The plot thickens when we see that one of the few teams worse than Carolina when trailing after one is Nashville. Is it as simple as Muller pointing at Tuesday and saying “do that”?
Staal is reported as “probable” against the Predators. and when all is said and done Carolina is on a roll and Nashville is not. Taking one on the road from a Western Conference opponent before facing the commando assault force that is the San Jose Sharks Friday night could be the starter’s pistol on a race to remain in contention going into the Olympic break.