NHL Weekly Preview: Week of Oct. 10
Jacob Cheris, Jordan Hession and Grant Commerer analyze three of the biggest matchups of the weekend of Friday, Oct. 10:
New York Islanders vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Friday, the Carolina Hurricanes will host the New York Islanders in a rematch from their second-round playoff match last spring, in which the Hurricanes came out on top in a dominant four-game sweep. The Hurricanes are off to a hot start, winning all three of their opening games against the Canadiens, Capitals and Lightning. Two out of the three games went to sudden death overtime, with the victory against Montreal coming in a shootout. The Islanders have struggled a bit, splitting their first two games, then being blown out against the Oilers at home. Still holding onto hope with a talented young squad, the Islanders are looking to build some momentum and avenge a disappointing end to their season last year with a victory over Carolina.
A major factor in this game will be home-ice advantage for the Hurricanes. Coming back from an away game in Florida, it will definitely be a boost for the Canes to sleep in their own beds and play at PNC Arena. The Islanders will look to take advantage of a tired and sore Hurricanes team by coming out fast and physical as soon as the puck drops.
Key players for Carolina coming into this game will be defenseman Dougie Hamilton and forward Teuvo Teravainen. Hamilton and Teravainen both have five points in four games and will look to make an impact early in this game. Another key player is young Finnish right winger Sebastian Aho. If Carolina is able to get some production out of its superstar against New York, it will be huge in the final result. One more player to watch is forward Ryan Dzingel, who lit the lamp twice against Florida en route to a comfortable 6-3 victory.
The Islanders will rely on the playmaking abilities of captain Anders Lee and veterans Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson. All three of these players notched goals in their victory over the Winnipeg Jets but struggled to generate much offense against Edmonton. If the Islanders want to win this game, they will need to use their speed and chemistry to generate scoring chances at a high volume. The scrappy enforcer Matt Martin will also be looked upon to make a difference in this game with his physicality and leadership to boost the team morale after a tough game at home.
Friday’s game between the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders should be an exciting and emotional rematch for both sides.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Minnesota Wild
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Minnesota Wild face off for the first time this season. The ongoing storyline going into Saturday’s matchup is how the Penguins will fare without centers Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad. Both of them suffered massive lower body injuries last Saturday against the Blue Jackets. With Malkin and Bjugstad on injured reserve, the Penguins lack center depth, which is a key component to their success. Pittsburgh will move winger Jared McCann, who has three points so far, to second-line center and rely heavily on young forward Teddy Blueger as the third-line center.
Pittsburgh also called up three other forwards from their AHL affiliate: Adam Johnson, Andrew Agozzino, and Sam Lafferty, who will make up the Penguins fourth line. It’s going to take some time for them to adjust to the NHL level.
The Penguins are still good on defense with Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin as their top pair, and second-year pro Marcus Pettersson is looking to build on a career year in 2018-19.
The Wild are still looking for their first win of the season. They’ve struggled offensively, scoring only six goals so far. Defensemen Ryan Suter leads the team with three points so far, but Minnesota must get production out of players like Zach Parise, and continue to develop young players like Joel Eriksson Ek and newly acquired forward Ryan Hartman.
The Wild must take advantage of the absence of Malkin. As for the Penguins, they need to rely on their top six forwards due to the aforementioned injuries.
Florida Panthers vs. Buffalo Sabres
After two days off, the Florida Panthers will look to rebound on Friday night after losing to Carolina 6-3 on Tuesday night. The upcoming three-game road trip will begin with a visit to the KeyBank Center to face off against the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres will look to continue an already impressive start to the season after defeating the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 in overtime.
Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky looks to rebound after being pulled in the first period on Tuesday night, in which he allowed four goals on 14 shots. But Bobrovsky will not have an easy night between the pipes on Friday, as the Sabres are second in the league with 18 goals scored. After signing a seven-year contract worth $70 million dollars, with a $10 million AAV in the offseason, expectations are high. It’s still early in the season, but Bobrovsky allowing 11 goals in three games is unexpected.
Offensively, the Panthers have been led by forward Mike Hoffman with four goals and six points, tallying a hat trick in the home opener. Look for forwards Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Vincent Trocheck to play feisty on offense, as each of them have yet to record a goal. For the Panthers to earn two points in Buffalo, they’re going to need a full team effort.
The Sabres have become an early-season surprise. After failing to reach the playoffs last year, the Sabres have come out determined through four games, tallying seven points, which ranks second in the league. Buffalo leads the league with 18 goals thanks to contributions from Jack Eichel, Rasmus Dahlin and Victor Olofsson, who have generated eight goals and 19 points. The emergence of Eichel becoming the true captain of the Sabres and Dahlin’s performance coming off an impressive rookie season has sparked excitement in Buffalo.
Early on, Buffalo has been dominant on the power play converting 53.3%. On the defensive side, Buffalo is 11th in goals against with 11, only trailing Florida which ranks sixth in goals against with 14. Goalie Carter Hutton looks to record his fourth win in four starts despite allowing seven goals in three games.
For the Sabres to emerge with two points, they need to continue their hot start offensively against a struggling Bobrovsky and lock it up defensively against a Panthers team that has struggled to produce goals.
Jacob Cheris is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
Jordan Hession is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nick Shimkin is a freshman majoring in advertising and public relations. To contact him, email email@example.com.