Carolina Hurricanes: A Tale of Two Seasons

The 2018-19 season was huge for the Carolina Hurricanes; the second-best season in team history and their first playoff appearance in a decade.  How does this year’s iteration compare after 50 games?

We’ve entered the post-New Year’s portion of the NHL a schedule, a time that was immensely productive for the Carolina Hurricanes last season.  From January 1st, 2019 through the end of the season, the Hurricanes posted a record of 30-12-2.  Grabbing 62 out of a possible 88 points made this difference in getting the team back into the postseason.

The start of 2020 hasn’t been nearly as impressive for the Hurricanes.  Through 9 games, they carry a 4-5 record, scoring 19 goals and allowing an equal number.  There have been plenty of highs and lows, from the season-opening 5 game winning streak to the unfortunate injury suffered by All-Star defenseman Dougie Hamilton.

Now, to get a better overall idea, let’s take a look at the Hurricanes’ year-over-year performance (through 50 games):

2018-19

  • W-L-T: 24-20-6
  • Points: 54
  • GF: 142
  • GA: 149

2019-20

  • W-L-T: 29-18-3
  • Points: 61 (+7)
  • GF: 159 (+19)
  • GA: 132 (-17)

There’s no argument that the Hurricanes are playing better overall hockey than they were a year ago; more points, more goals scored, fewer goals surrendered.  Everything looks good, right?

Well…

Okay, let’s be fair.  Last season’s 99 points and run to the Eastern Conference Finals raised expectations.  Erik Haula, Ryan Dzingel, and Jake Gardiner were signed to bolster the offense.  The long-rumored Justin Faulk trade finally materialized after a false start with the Anaheim Ducks.  That move brought in physical defenseman Joel Edmundson along with prospect Dominik Bokk.

The new additions have yielded mixed results, though Gardiner has been the lightning rod for many fans.  Still, we have year-over-year improvement, so a return to the playoffs is a given.

About that…

Taking a quick look at the Metropolitan Division standings tells you all you need to know about that.  The third-seeded New York Islanders and the sixth-place Philadelphia Flyers are separated by just 3 points.  Put the Hurricanes in the Central Division and they’d be in third place.  Move them to the Pacific and they’d be the top team.

Alas, that’s not how it works.  Instead, the Hurricanes find themselves in the Metro’s war of attrition, scratching to hang on.  The positive is that they’re just two points out of third place and the skating personification of heart, Justin Williams, is back.

The negative is that Hamilton is out indefinitely and the rest of the team has only been consistent in underachieving.  If the Hurricanes can replicate last season’s second-half pace, the playoffs are easily within reach.

If not, they’ll fail to reach the postseason in consecutive seasons.

What are your thoughts on the Carolina Hurricanes’ play this season compared to last?  What do you anticipate them to do as the trade deadline approaches?

Next: The Future of Hurricanes' Goaltending
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