Hurricane Forecast: ‘Canes Return from Sochi

Carolina Hurricanes
Hurricane Forecast: Previewing the Week Ahead

Hurricane Forecast will be a new weekly feature on THW, outlining the week ahead for the Carolina Hurricanes every Sunday.  We will be taking a look at the previous week for the ‘Canes, the games ahead, and any potential story lines.  All to give Hurricane fans coverage of the team they love from every angle!

The Week Ahead for the Carolina Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes returned to practice earlier last week, and will be welcoming back their four Olympians, as they get ready to open up the remainder of their NHL schedule.

The ‘Canes will be the first team to take the ice in regulation play, as they face the Buffalo Sabres in a crucial tilt Tuesday night.  Carolina currently sits in sixth place in the Metropolitan division with 61 points.  However, they remain only three points behind the Detroit Red Wings for the final Wild Card position, and have their work cut out for them, as six teams are within striking distance for the final spot.

A Look at the Games

Buffalo Sabres (15-34-8, 38 points)

Tuesday, Feb 25th, 7:00pm ET

Outlook:  The Carolina Hurricanes cannot afford a let down in their first game back from the Olympic break.  Especially against a team with the NHL’s lowest point total.  This will be the first of a five-game road trip for the ‘Canes, and they need to be able to win the games they are supposed to win.

Dallas Stars (27-21-10, 64 points)

Jamie Benn and the Dallas Stars are a dangerous match up (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)
Jamie Benn and the Dallas Stars are a dangerous match up (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Thursday, Feb 27th, 8:30pm ET

Outlook:  It is a game like this that makes the Buffalo game a must-win.  Dallas is 6-2-2 in their last ten games, and 14-9-6 at home.  While the Hurricanes match up well with this Stars team, Jamie Benn is leaving the Olympic tournament with a hot hand, and Dallas is fighting for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Los Angeles Kings (31-22-6, 68 points)

Saturday, March 1st, 4:00pm ET

Outlook:  It does not get any easier for the Hurricanes, as they travel to LA to take on the Kings and an angry Jonathan Quick.  This is a potential steal game, however, as the Kings are a mere 2-8 in their last ten, and have a lot of broken hearts coming back from Sochi.

Anaheim Ducks (41-14-5, 87 points)

Sunday, March 2nd, 8:00pm ET

Outlook:  The ‘Canes end the week against the leagues best team, the Anaheim Ducks.  And while they play the games for a reason, this one looks bleak for the Hurricanes.  It is their fourth game during their road trip, and their second on the West Coast.  This game will prove to be too much, and Carolina needs to be able to steal one from L.A. or Dallas to keep their heads above water.

What to Watch For

There is no shortage of drama for the Carolina Hurricanes coming back from the Olympic break.  The first question is; how will their stars perform coming back from Sochi?  Will Justin Faulk, Alexander Semin, Andrej Sekera, and Tuomo Ruutu suffer an Olympic hangover?  Or will the experience and emotions of the tournament carry into the remainder of the season?

Carolina Hurricane Alexander Semin - Mandatory Photo Credit: Andy Martin Jr
How will Alexander Semin respond to Olympic heartbreak? Credit: Andy Martin Jr

[Check out my previous article on Justin Faulk’s Olympic experience benefiting the Carolina Hurricanes]

Keep an eye on the Carolina goaltending as well.  There is still a lot of indecision about who will be the starting goaltender between Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin as the ‘Canes make their final playoff push.  If Carolina comes out with Kudobin or Ward, it is still uncertain whether they will be sticking with them for the long run, or if they are just showcasing them for the trade deadline.

[For more information on the Carolina goaltending situation, read my article on why they should and should not trade Cam Ward]