3 Keys for the Carolina Hurricanes to Make the Playoffs in 2020

BOSTON, MA - MAY 9: Sebastian Aho #20 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrates his goal against the Boston Bruins in Game One of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the TD Garden on May 9, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 9: Sebastian Aho #20 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrates his goal against the Boston Bruins in Game One of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the TD Garden on May 9, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – MAY 09: Sebastian Aho #20 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the first period against the Boston Bruins in Game One of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 09, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – MAY 09: Sebastian Aho #20 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the first period against the Boston Bruins in Game One of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 09, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Special Teams

I’ll be nice and start with the positives.  The Carolina Hurricanes finished last season with a penalty-kill ranking eighth overall (81.6%).  If the goaltending holds up, I don’t see a reason why they can’t finish high on the PK again in 2019-20.  However, if the goaltending falters, all bets are off.

The real problem with special teams lies with the power play.  The Hurricanes finished last season with a 17.8% conversion with the man-advantage, placing them 20th in the league.  Not good.  Of the 16 teams that qualified for the postseason, only 4 had worse regular-season power plays than the Hurricanes.  Things got worse in the postseason with that number dropping below ten percent, putting them third-to-last.

The additions of Haula and Dzingel should help, but the issue is not solely one of on-ice talent.  Too many times the Hurricanes looked stagnant on the power play, being forced to the perimeter and not utilizing their passing to thin out coverage.  I think we can all agree that unscreened shots to the goalie’s chest are not a part of the recipe for success.

The Hurricanes have to be more effective with the advantage.  No, that’s not a breakthrough idea, we all know it.  Someone has to set up shop in front of the opposing goalie and make their life miserable.  The passing has to be quicker and we need to see more low, deflectable shots.  Most NHL goalies are going to stop most of the shots that they can see so the Hurricanes have to focus on keeping them moving to open up holes and screening them to take away their vision.

Image how many more points in the standings the Hurricanes could have had last season if the power play had been deadlier (to the opposition, that is).   Is it possible that they qualify for the playoffs again with a middling power play?  Yes, but it would be so much easier if the team can properly address this issue.  On the other hand, you can pretty much kiss any playoff hopes goodbye if the power play drops lower.

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What say you?  Will the Carolina Hurricanes return to the playoffs in 2020?