With the finish line in sight for the 2017-18 NHL season, the Carolina Hurricanes need to pick up two points against the Montreal Canadiens tonight.
After two straight losses, at the hands of the Vegas Golden Knights and Pittsburgh Penguins, the Carolina Hurricanes have their last chance to gain some ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Prior to the 2018 NHL All-Star Break, the Canes are a full five points out of the wildcard spot in the East.
On Jan. 25, the Canes take on the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. It’s also the second to final game during the January slate. The last comes on Jan. 30, at PNC Arena, against the Ottawa Senators. Both the Habs and Sens present chances for the Canes to gain four valuable points.
Carolina is dead last in the Metropolitan Division, at least three points behind the next worst teams, the New York Islanders and New York Rangers. But, the Metro is even more competitive this season, which is not good news for the Canes.
Cam Ward is likely to get the start, but nothing is confirmed yet. Carey Price is also likely to get the start for the Habs. Defeating a goaltender like Price is a big confidence boost for a struggling offensive team like the Canes.
If points are not picked up in these final two contests of the month, garnering any sort of contention for a playoff spot gets extremely tough. The Metro is not likely to slow down any time soon, and any teams that hit a rough patch will get left in the dust.
With only two full months remaining in the 2017-18 regular season, the Canes do need to get it together. Sebastian Aho should return from his concussion and lower-body injury before the end of January. And, Carolina just got Lee Stempniak, Derek Ryan, and Brett Pesce back in the lineup. Things could look up with a Jan. 25 win over Montreal.