Well, the Carolina Hurricanes find themselves in a rut, once again. Alas, the Canes are playing well and finding good movement yet falter in almost every conceivable way.
They are three games into their best coast road trip of six, losing all three so far. The first game in Vancouver resulted in a 3-0 shutout followed by back-to-back overtime losses at San Jose and Los Angelas, respectively.
The loss at the hands of the Canucks was just plain bad hockey. It has been almost two decades since the Hurricanes won at Vancouver, so I wasn’t shocked.
In usual fashion, the Canes lost in overtime to the Sharks after blowing a 4-1 lead. Their loss to the Kings was a little more hope inducing, as they came back from a 2-0 deficit, scoring two goals in the third period. However, they maintained the puck for almost 60% of overtime before allowing the Kings to score with less than 15 seconds until the shootout.
If you look at the lackluster play as of late and the 11-10-7 record, you would think the Hurricanes are going nowhere fast. Before you light your torch and get your pitchfork ready to invade PNC Arena and fire Bill Peters, calm down.
We are 28 games into the 2017 season and the Hurricanes are averaging 13 points per ten games while averaging just under 4 wins per ten contests. Just as a comparison, the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have the most points in the NHL through 29 games, average 21 points and seven wins per ten games. As you can see, there is a quite a gap Carolina has from the NHL’s elite.
These stats may look bad, especially when you see the Hurricanes sitting second to last in the Metropolitan Division, 10 points behind the leading Columbus Blue Jackets. However, if you look at the long scope of things, the Hurricanes play is putting them in charge of their own destiny and giving the team the opportunity to make things happen.
There are 54 games remaining on the schedule. If you were to assume the team would continue to average 13 points per 10 games and win at least one game of their last four, they would earn 68 points. Add that on to their current 29 points and the boys in red would finish just shy of the decade mark with 97 points.
In the 2016 season, the Toronto Maple Leafs locked up the second Wild Card spot with 95 points. In the 2015 season, the Philadelphia Flyers got the second Wild Card spot with 96 points. In the 2014 season, the Pittsburgh Penguins snuck into the second Wild Card spot with 98 points. In each of these seasons, the number one Wild Card team had at least 99 points with two of the teams earning over 100, so the Hurricanes are realistically aiming for the second Wild Card spot.
According to these numbers, the Hurricanes are right where they want to be. It doesn’t matter that they are losing a majority of their games, they are getting points. Coach Peters has struck a chord with this team and they understand the push they need every night to get at least a point. Many writers and critics have been calling for Peters’ firing after a dreadful November that saw the Canes win six out 13 games, but you have to remember the team recorded at least a point in nine of those games.
It is unorthodox and it certainly is not efficient, but the Hurricanes are chugging right along in the right direction. If they can figure out a way to get some upset wins and break their 10 game average a few times, the possibility of seeing over 100 points is more real than fake.
The goalkeeping and defense have been the big question marks throughout the season, so to see some improvement in those departments could see the Hurricanes skyrocket in the standings. It is time to put on the big boy pants and let the likes of Sebastian Aho and Jeff Skinner lead the team into the promised land. Despite a rough start, the team is on track for postseason glory and they will need every inch of support from the Raleigh faithful.
The Canes continue their road trip tonight, squaring off against the Anaheim Ducks (12-11-7) at 10 p.m. Eastern time, followed by a game against the Las Vegas Golden Knights (19-9-1) with the trip coming to a close against the Buffalo Sabers (7-17-6). Carolina’s game against the Golden Knights on Tuesday night will be the two franchise’s first ever contest.