Carolina Hurricanes: 3 Keys to win over the Kings

The Carolina Hurricanes' Sebastian Aho (20) puts the puck past the Los Angeles Kings' Darcy Kuemper (35) for a goal during the third period at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. The Canes won, 7-3. (Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
The Carolina Hurricanes' Sebastian Aho (20) puts the puck past the Los Angeles Kings' Darcy Kuemper (35) for a goal during the third period at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. The Canes won, 7-3. (Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Kings visit Raleigh for the first Carolina Hurricanes game after the Trade Deadline. It is also the first game since October in which they will be in a playoff spot before puck drop. Can they skate away with their spot intact?

For the first time in what feels like a long time, the Carolina Hurricanes are in a playoff spot to start a game. Not only that, but they also control their destiny for the rest of the season. Thanks to the six games left against those above them in the playoffs, they control more than just the second wildcard they currently retain.

The Surging months of January and February have elevated this team from being tied at only four points away from the bottom of the league to 12th place overall in points. But to accomplish what hasn’t happened in the last decade, this team needs to continue rolling. Here are the three keys to keeping our playoff spot at the end of today regardless of what else happens.

1. Keep On Keeping On

There were only two transactions yesterday during the trade deadline fiasco. Both involved an AHL player, the Florida Panthers, and future considerations as the Carolina Hurricanes sent Cliff Pu down to the Panthers and took custody of Tomas Jurco, each receiving future considerations. That finally pushed away the last bad taste in Don Waddell’s mouth from the Jeff Skinner trade. It also means that there are no changes to the roster being iced for tonight’s game.

There should also be no changes to how this team has been playing over the last two months. Just because they start this game in a playoff spot, doesn’t mean they can afford to make any changes to their excellent style of play. This game and every game afterwards still hold playoff implications for the Carolina Hurricanes. A win today can place this team as high as third in the Metro before the night is over. But it starts with a win.

If anything, the only change in style should be an increase in focus on winning now that we know that everyone here is here to stay, and that the only support to come in case of injuries will come from the Queen City. Perhaps it’s time for Jordan Staal to reveal his personal idea for a Storm Surge?

2. Play a Full Three Periods

Just because the Carolina Hurricanes are playing the second-worst team in the NHL doesn’t give them right to take a period or two off. The best team in the league did that last night and found themselves forced to be the ones forcing an overtime period after going into the third with a comfortable 2-0 lead that quickly evaporated.

The Lightning won that game in a shootout eventually, meaning that the Kings are coming into Raleigh in a bad mood having being unable to hold onto the comeback lead. The Carolina Hurricanes need to make sure that they do not take a single shift off and keep the Kings out of the defensive zone and away from whomever is in net.

They need to strike hard and strike fast. There are no comfortable leads in this game and there will be no excuses for slowing down at any point. Justin Williams has been the true leader when it comes to playing a complete game after taking a puck to the face against the Panthers, only to come back and score the game winner down the road. He won’t allow his teammates to take any rest either and will hear him push his team tonight:

If the Carolina Hurricanes wish to play summer hockey, they need to start playing playoff hockey now. That means taking every opportunity to score. That means winning as many faceoffs as humanly possible and retaining the puck for as long as possible. That means no shifts taken off. With two days rest before the game and another two days rest after the game, there is no reason to kick up the skates at any moment in this game.

3. Turn on the Jets

Speaking of not kicking the skates up, they should be kicking their skates into another gear and taking advantage of a slower Kings team. That means less dumping of the puck into the zone and more carries, to create better offensive opportunities and leaving the Kings’ wingers trying to catch back up from the neutral zone.

The youngest average team in the league should have something or two to say about being able to skate circles around the oldest team in the league. They failed to do so when visiting the Kings in early December. But that was a team that didn’t have many of the faces it currently does. It’s also a team that was just inspired by a much younger crowd of 9,000 schoolchildren that visited them yesterday during practice for the annual Readvolution field trip:

That’s a much cooler trip than anything I ever did as a kid (outside that one time we went to the butterfly house). But that loud youthful chain of squeals, cheers, and screams should have given this team the energy to take on the Kings and have plenty left in the tank for the Blues on Friday. Just because the Penguins and Blue Jackets were pretty active in the trade market doesn’t mean we have to surrender our playoff spot, it just means we have to fight harder for it.


109. 1. 67. Final. 4

The Kings are deep in their own race to figure out a way to rebuild without any real help from a decent pipeline, which means they are hoping to win the Draft Lottery. The tank has already started for them but continues tonight. While guys like Ilya Kovalchuk and Anze Kopitar do not believe in tanking, the rest of the team won’t really be putting in real effort and risk getting hurt against a team fighting for everything and then some.

Trending. Relive all the trading from yesterday. light

Question for CC Readers: Do you believe the current unchanged roster is enough to make it the playoffs? Do you think it is enough for a deep run?