Following the playoff race is always exciting if you're a fan of the team in the hunt but at the same time, it can also make you want to pull your hair out. This is especially true if your team is clinging to life for it's playoff spot like the Carolina Hurricanes currently are. They put themselves behind the eight-ball a little by posting a mediocre record for the first three months of a year, but a strong performance in January has them right in the middle of the mix and that's basically where they are going into the Olympic break. Unfortunately, they still aren't in a great position and will have to do more scratching and clawing to get themselves into the post-season.
They had a chance to put themselves in a better spot, but dropping two out of three games over the past week has the Canes on-pace for 87-88 points and it's going to take more than that to make the playoffs. The Hurricanes were in a pretty similar situation in 2008-09, which was the last time they made the playoffs, so not all hope is lost, but they'll still need to have a great finish to have a shot. If you don't remember, the Hurricanes had 61 points through 57 games that year and made the post-season after going 13-3-2 in March & April. With the new playoff alignment, the cut-off for the playoffs is probably 92-93 points in the East, so it'll take a similar performance for the Canes to pull this off (winning at least 13 of their last 25). Are they capable of it and how much is the deck stacked against them? We'll take a closer look at what Carolina is up against after the jump.
|Team||GP||Pts/82||Pts%||95 Pts||Corsi%||5v5 Sh%||5v5 Sv%|
Yellow = Metro Division, Red = Atlantic Division, Blue = Wild Card
Like I said earlier, getting a win over Montreal or Winnipeg would have really helped because that would have put Carolina on par with Detroit in terms of point pace. Instead, they are now a few points behind them and will have to earn points in almost 70% of their games to clinch a playoff spot. It may take less than that to actually make the playoffs, the point remains that Carolina will need to have a great showing in March & April to stay in the race.
They're good enough at even strength possibly do that, but they have a tough West coast trip coming up and there isn't a lot that makes them stand out from the teams they are competing with. They're similar to Philadelphia, Columbus, Washington & Ottawa in even strength play while both New York & Detroit are superior to them. The only thing that might increase their chances of making the post-season, aside from an amazing run to finish the year, is Montreal and/or Toronto having a meltdown to end the season.
Both clubs are in a good spot now, but they've been boosted by amazing goaltending and have been very poor at even strength this year. It's possible to make the playoffs while being a negative possession team, but both Montreal & Toronto have been so bad in this regard that a collapse could very well happen. Just ask the 2009-10 Avalanche, the 2010-11 Stars and the 2011-12 Wild. Buffalo & Florida falling out of a playoff spot helped the Canes in 2008-09, and they'll likely need help again this year.
So, in theory, the Hurricanes still have a chance at the playoffs and they can realistically pull it off. However, it will take a big winning streak (and possibly a couple of roster additions) to pull it off and they'll likely be one of the final two seeds if they do make it.
Stats courtesy of Extra Skater