The Carolina Hurricanes Need to Take the Presented Opportunity

The Month of March Continues for the Carolina Hurricanes who now have a huge opportunity to take advantage of the next few match ups to secure their playoff hopes.

The Carolina Hurricanes are holding on to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by nothing more than the number of wins in regulation. Not an ideal place to be in this late in the season, but there is still plenty of time in this playoff race. Luckily for them there is a huge opportunity in the schedule to rake in some easy points.

Only 15 games remaining on the schedule and only six are not against teams that are either in a playoff spot or nipping at the heels of one. Five of these games are in the next seven match ups starting tonight in Detroit.

With only the Penguins visiting on Saturday and the Blues visiting next Thursday as the matchups against playoff teams in the immediate future, the Carolina Hurricanes have the opportunity to pole-vault themselves up in the playoff race and perhaps begin to place some distance between themselves and summer golf courses.

Given games against the Red Wings, Devils, Sabres, and Senators all lined up this can be a serious make or break time for this roster.

The wins against the Islanders and Penguins over the last weekend were phenomenal and have given hope and a playoff spot to a roster that has been besieged by injuries and has seen more than a few new faces added to it.

This newfound chemistry needs to continue and be built upon in the upcoming match ups, some that people might call “trap games” against easier opponents. If they do happen to fall in these traps and lose, it might prematurely put an end to both the hope and the playoff chances.

While these teams aren’t going to make the playoffs, with some even already officially eliminated, they aren’t going to be a walk in the park to beat. In fact each one of those teams are coming off a win. Each have recently defeated a good playoff team and outside of the Sabres, they are each currently on a two game winning steak.

That means that the Hurricanes cannot afford to treat these teams any differently than they did the Islanders or Penguins last weekend. No other team competing for a playoff spot in the Metro has this much opportunity.

The Blue Jacket get a single game against the Devils as the only team well out of a playoff spot. If you count the New York Rangers as out of the playoff race (I don’t) then count another. The only other team they face that is currently out are the predators who are only out by a point. That is only three such games in the 12 games they have left.

The Blue Jackets, who currently hold the first wildcard, are sweating. But not as much as the Rangers are.

They have four games left against non-playoff teams, but one of those is Florida which has two points on them. The Rangers are three points behind in the playoff race and do not have the games in hand they need to try and make up lost points. They have two games in hand against the Blue Jackets, but are five points behind them and both the Hurricanes and Islanders have a game in hand on them.

The Islanders, the only other team with as many games left as the Canes, have an almost equal opportunity with six games remaining against teams outside of the playoffs. But one of those teams, the one they face tonight, is Vancouver who is looking to get back in with a win over the Isle.

In terms of games remaining against teams that are absolutely out of the playoff race Here is how the race shapes out:

  • Hurricanes: 6 of 15 games remaining
  • Islanders 5 of 15 games remaining
  • Blue Jackets: 1 of 12 games remaining
  • Penguins: 4 of 14 games remaining
  • Rangers: 2 of 14 games remaining
  • Flyers: 3 of 14 games remaining
  • Capitals: 6 of 14 games remaining
  • Panthers: 6 of 14 games remaining

One thing to consider is that none of these games are guaranteed wins by any means regardless of the team. These are all games that they should win. There are so many points up for grabs and with only four weeks left in the season only a single team has been eliminated. It is going to make the race to make the playoffs one of the most intriguing in NHL history.

The Carolina Hurricanes need to take this opportunity to rise like cream to the top. They might not move into home ice advantage in the first round, but they just might give themselves the breathing room they need to finish the final stretch of hockey, a brutal one, with some confidence and a little swagger in their step.

Next: Keys to extending a winning streak in Motor City
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