This round of NHL Predictions takes us to Motown where the Carolina Hurricanes take on the Detroit Red Wings. Both teams broke their recent slumps with victories on Tuesday. Carolina taking down the Ottawa Senators and Detroit victorious over the St. Louis Blues. This will be a big matchup for both teams as they currently are jockeying for playoff positioning. Both have played 28 games but Detroit holds the first wild card spot with 34 points while Carolina sits just outside with 31.

This will be the first matchup this season between the two. Sebastian Aho returned to form against Ottawa with two goals for Carolina while Teuvo Teravainen and Seth Jarvis remain near the top for goals scored. On the other side, Detroit continues to weather the storm created by the loss of their captain Dylan Larkin. As one of the top point producers for the team this year he will surely be missed. Let’s take a look at three keys to victory for Carolina in this one.

NHL Predictions: Carolina Hurricanes vs Detroit Red Wings

Three Keys to Victory for Carolina

Top Players Lead the Way

If there was one (of many) thing Carolina needed during their Western Canada road trip it was production from their top guys. None of Seth Jarvis, Teuvo Teravainen, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Brent Burns, Sebastian Aho or Andrei Svechnikov had a goal during that trip. Jarvis, Aho and Teravainen didn’t even have a point. But then the return to Ottawa saw a different story.

Sebastian Aho led the way with two goals and one assist, including one power play goal. On the four goals scored Aho was a part of three of them. Meanwhile, Seth Jarvis scored the third goal and, even though it didn’t show up on the scoresheet, set an excellent screen on Aho’s first. Martin Necas got the team going with the first goal on the power play.

This was a big difference from their most recent games. It’s great to see depth scoring, and it’s essential, but you pay certain players more for a reason. And if they aren’t going, the team can only last for so long. Carolina will need for their “stars” to show up against Detroit to keep them on the winning side of the sheet. It doesn’t have to be everyone, but if a few of the top guys can produce a game it can be enough to move the needle.

Even though you may not necessarily consider him a star, especially this year, it is also worth noting that Pyotr Kochetkov had a great game in Ottawa too. The goalie position is so vital that Carolina also will need whoever starts to be ready to go.

Win the Special Teams Battle

Another one of the killers during the Western Canada road trip was Carolina’s inefficient power play. They only managed to convert at around 9% and gave up a shorthanded goal against the Calgary Flames that was the game-winner. The penalty kill was maybe the only bright spot from that trip, however.

What the Numbers Show

But the power play became the catalyst for Carolina’s 4-1 victory in Ottawa. As the first period rolled on and Carolina was playing solid but still seemed a little lack of confidence, it was Necas’ goal on their first power play that seemed to give the team some spark. They followed that with another power play goal in the second period from Aho. And that was that. Their power play, and their penalty kill, were both 100%. This brought their penalty kill percentage for the year up to 80% and their power play to 22.3%. It has been said over and over how big special teams can be for a team and the Ottawa game really showed that.

On the other side, Detroit has actually fairly similar numbers on their special team effectiveness. They are at 22.9% on the power play and 77.4% on the penalty kill. Carolina will need their hot penalty kill to stay hot and watch out for Detroit’s offensive firepower even without Larkin. Alex DeBrincat can make you pay if given too much space and newcomer Patrick Kane can be a wizard offensively, even at his age.

Power Play Magic

For the power play, Carolina needs to pounce on those opportunities again. The way they do that seems to heavily revolve around quick and creative passing combined with net-front presence. But it also requires hard work.

The two power play goals against Ottawa showed all of this. On Aho’s power play goal, he took a fairly long-range shot but picked his spot perfectly. The reason the hole was there was because Jarvis set a perfect screen in front of the goalie.

On Necas’ power play goal, it started with a hard-working play by Jack Drury to recover a Brent Burns turnover at the blue line. The puck then found its way to Brady Skjei further down the right side of the ice who quickly sent it to Necas on the opposite side for a one-timer. Pass, shoot, score.

Keep doing the little things right and special teams can again make a difference against Detroit.

Don’t Get Too Comfortable

The last key for Carolina comes from within the players themselves and not on a drawing board. It’s the mentality heading into this one. It’s great to snap out of the skid and get some confidence back. Winning 4-1 feels good. But it is one game and this matchup with Detroit is a new day. Detroit too is coming off of a good win.

So, for Carolina, they need to take the positives from their last game to roll into Detroit with confidence, but they need to let the past be the past. Much like forgetting the disastrous Western Canada road trip, the team needs to learn from the highs and lows but forget previous results and focus on the day at hand. Rod Brind’Amour provided similar thoughts following the win while also providing that the team is dealing with some undisclosed injuries.

If this one win makes the team feel like they are “back” and don’t have to earn it, Detroit will make them pay. Whether they run a traditional 12-6 forward/defence lineup or opt for an 11-7 as they did in Ottawa is almost irrelevant if the team isn’t mentally sharp. It’s a long season but you only get through it one step in front of the other.

Prediction Time

If Carolina can bring to Detroit what they did in Ottawa, Hurricanes fans should be in store for a treat. But it won’t come easy. Detroit has been solid all year with some offensive firepower and pretty reliable goaltending. If Carolina sits back in this one and just expects results, they won’t come. But as this NHL Predictions provided, if the top guys step up and the special teams can stay sharp, Carolina has a good chance to get on a new win streak.

Prediction: Carolina wins 3-2

Main Photo Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Akash Mahi, a dedicated enthusiast of the game, is a recognized expert in the domain of tennis balls. With a keen understanding of materials and aerodynamics, he has contributed to the evolution of tennis ball design, enhancing playability and performance. Mahi's expertise continues to impact both casual players and professionals alike.