The Columbus Blue Jackets start their southern road trip in Raleigh as they take on the Carolina Hurricanes.
For the third time this season the Columbus Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes meet in a Metro Division showdown. The Canes are riding a two game winning streak as they host the Jackets who are 7-2-1 in their last ten.
Lansing Murphy (LM): It was another year that the Canes were dark horse candidates to make the playoffs. What happened this year that has the Canes so far out of the mix?
Omar Abdelgawad (OA): The Carolina Hurricanes have been plagued for almost a decade’s worth of being a “bubble” team. It was supposed to end two head coaches and a general manager ago.
But alas it didn’t. So here we are now with brand new everything. New Coach, New GM, New Owner, and a new Russian kid thats supposed to be our savior. We started off really well. Beat the CBJ in your arena in our second game. But when the Jackets came back to town, that was the beginning of the fall. But to be honest, a lot of what went wrong was on player management.
Darling should have been traded in the off season. He simply doesn’t play well behind a defense like Carolina that forces offenses to throw their best stuff at them in order to simply get a shot on. Martin Necas shouldn’t have been sent down for Clark Bishop. Maybe (GM) Waddell is out of his element. He couldn’t get a trade done before the holiday freeze. Are the other GMs not giving him the proper respect? After all, he did ship Skinner off to Buffalo for table scraps (Aho and Slavin are late 2nd and 6th Rounders so who knows yet if the returns are worth it).
Perhaps the biggest reason is injuries. Staal is back on the IR tonight. Rask, Darling, Fluery, and Ferland all have done time on IR this season as well.
LM: Do you think the Canes will dump any big names ahead of the trade deadline and if so, who?
Columbus Blue Jackets
OA: This is a loaded question. It assumes that come trade deadline at the end of next month that Carolina will be, once again, in the position to dump players. They were in that position last year and moved a single 4th liner who was already waived to the AHL. That got Ron Francis, the GM at the time, canned. Waddell, less than a year since he was appointed as GM, by, well himself, may find himself in the hot seat if he isn’t already for the Skinner trade.
Tom Dundon wants to score and he wants to win. I see Carolina pushing for a trade to get some veteran help. The biggest name they may trade away is Justin Faulk. The former co-captain hasn’t found his stride in the last few seasons. Maybe he might find it elsewhere. Calvin deHaan is the only reasons he has any points this season. That pairing has given the defense a step up from last year.
LM: Where do the Canes have the biggest matchup advantage on the Columbus Blue Jackets?
OA: Defense. I have already mentioned how Carolina’s defense has outmatched everyone they have played against. With Curtis McElhinney most likely in net tonight (Petr Mrazek beat the Flyers last night) the CBJ might find it difficult to score tonight. Only the Islanders have allowed less goals in the Metro than the Hurricanes, and they never had to start Scott Darling.
If the Hurricane’s offense can buzz off the bat like they did last two games, look out, because the Jackets could be caught playing catch-up quick. Officer Bob will have to be on his tippy toes tonight. That defense will continue to stifle and frustrate Cam Atkinson and company.
LM: How do you see this game playing out?
OA: Columbus hasn’t played since last year. Carolina already worked out it’s kinks last night and come in skating hard. Will the extra rest help CBJ? Maybe, but both netminders have had equal amounts of rest.
This will be a classic case of unstoppable force (CBJ offense) vs immovable object (CAR defense). Who will surrender first? If Sebastian Aho and the Andrei Svechnikov manage to slip a puck or two past Bob before Cam and the boys in blue beat Slavin to get one past the Big Mac, its going to be a long night for CBJ fans.
On their second game of a back-back, the Canes are 3-3-1 including a win against CBJ. Canes are trying to prove that 2019 is when they get back to work. Sorry CBJ, but you are in the way. My prediction? 4-2 Canes win.
Thanks again to Omar for his great insight. Puck drops in Raleigh tonight at 7:30pm.