The Olympic break is almost here – six days away to be exact – and the Carolina Hurricanes only have three games left until all but four players on the current roster can take a two-week break, but before the Canes can start thinking about that, winning those three games is mightily important.
Before Monday night’s games, the Hurricanes sit fifth in the Metropolitan Division, but only one point out of third place, which would earn a spot in the playoffs. The Canes have two games in hand on the Philadelphia Flyers in fourth and one on the Columbus Blue Jackets in third.
Tied with the Hurricanes in points are the Washington Capitals, who have played two more games.
By the end of the week, the Hurricanes will be in the same boat with games in hands, but have arguably the easiest schedule of the four teams fighting for third place.
With the Winnipeg Jets Tuesday, Florida Panthers Friday and the Montreal Canadiens Saturday, the Canes will see two teams in the bottom ten, while the Hurricanes have already beaten the Canadiens this season and could be a team to battle for the last wild card spot by the end of the season.
But these games can’t be taken lightly. If the Hurricanes can manage wins or at least points in all three of them, it will do wonders on their playoff chances. Winning two would also help a lot.
Should Carolina only manage two points or less, things could get much difficult down the stretch run. The team will have 25 games left after the break and chasing an improving Metropolitan Division will not be easy.
The Hurricanes would still have a chance at the two wild card spots, but that would still pit the team against Metro foes and one of the teams that drops out of the race in the Atlantic Division.
With two weeks off after this three-game stretch the Hurricanes need to push it and work as hard as they can to earn the most points and wins. If they don’t the last month and a half of the season will be much more difficult.