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NHL Predictions: Carolina Hurricanes Three Keys to Victory vs Columbus Blue Jackets

Carolina Hurricanes predictions

It’s game 82 for the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets in this round of NHL Predictions. It’s been a long road for both teams this season, albeit in different directions. The Blue Jackets have their eyes set on the NHL Draft while the Hurricanes have high aspirations for a Stanley Cup Run. But there is one more regular season game to finish for both.

The Blue Jackets come into this one with a record of 26-43-12 and are 3-7-0 in their last ten games. They have faced Carolina three times this season and have lost each of those.

Carolina is playing arguably some of their best hockey of the season right now as they look to stay engaged for a playoff run. With a record of 52-22-7 on the season and 8-2-0 in their last ten, Carolina looks to finish the year out on a high note.

Even though it may be somewhat of a David versus Goliath matchup, Carolina will have to be ready in this one or they may face an unhappy surprise. Here are three keys in this round of Carolina Hurricanes predictions to finish the year in the win column.

NHL Predictions: Carolina Hurricanes vs Columbus Blue Jackets

Three Keys to Victory for Carolina

The Power of 59-20-24

When Jake Guentzel came to Carolina at the NHL Trade Deadline, many had him pegged as the Hurricanes potential missing piece for the Stanley Cup. A true offensive threat that could put the puck in the net. While you can never be certain, and no one has a crystal ball, what we do know is that so far Guentzel has fit in Carolina like a glove.

After it took Rod Brind’Amour a few games to get the line together, Guentzel has slot in alongside top Hurricanes centre Sebastian Aho and their next potential star in Seth Jarvis. As a line, they have a 65% xGoals percentage with a 3.01 xGoals for per 60 minutes and a 1.62 xGoals against per 60 minutes. Almost more notably, that line has 12 goals for with only three against in 15 games played together. For Hurricanes lines that have played at least 100 minutes together, their 12 goals is tied for second even though they have played significantly fewer games together than the other lines. It’s no secret that this line is controlling play, getting chances, and putting the puck in the net. They are performing like a true first line should.

This top line could take over this game against the Blue Jackets by working the puck with creativity and skill and striking on their chances. If they can keep up their consistent play, that could tilt the ice in Carolina’s favour.

Something to Play For

While it is game 82 for Carolina and most of the focus is on the playoffs (and primarily on not suffering a significant injury), that doesn’t mean this game is completely meaningless. Maintaining good habits, entering the playoffs with momentum and a similar intensity, and everyone being on the same page are all important as the season comes to a close.

If there is one message that Brind’Amour has preached throughout his coaching tenure louder than others, it’s that you have to focus on today and take care of what is in front of you. Don’t get lost thinking about something down the road. And this itself could be a bad habit the team should avoid in this one. If they can keep their focus and play with the same intensity they have shown most of the season, that will be how they pull out another win here.

A Complete Effort on Defence

Carolina plays a complete team game that features a heavy forecheck, strong pressure on the puck, and a hard-working man-on-man defence. But that doesn’t mean cracks don’t show from time to time. One of those cracks is when assignments get missed or confused and the opposition can counterattack by getting behind Carolina’s defence for odd-man rushes.

This happened in their last game against the Chicago Blackhawks that led to Frank Nazar‘s first NHL goal. Even in the Hurricanes last matchup against Columbus, there were a few Blue Jackets chances that rang off the post due to a similar moment of lapse. Carolina needs to be focused, aware and ready. And the players on the ice need to be in constant communication to make sure everyone is on the same page. By limiting odd-man rushes and breaks, they can utilize their system to overpower and outwork this Blue Jackets squad.

Prediction Time

While this game for this round of NHL Predictions seems like it lacks in weight compared to many games before (and many to come for Carolina), there is still something to play for. Carolina wants to maintain good habits and end the season on a high note to roll into the playoffs. Meanwhile, Columbus has their pride on the line. Carolina must keep doing what they have been of late to pull out a win here. It seems unlikely that Brind’Amour won’t have them ready to go.

Prediction: Carolina wins 3-1

Main Photo Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports


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