The Carolina Hurricanes are not favored to get past the play-in round
The Carolina Hurricanes are entering the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs as underdogs after a difficult regular season, and that is exactly where they need to be.
The Carolina Hurricanes find themselves overcoming regular season struggles again after making the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since 2002. The Canes are playoff underdogs again, and I find this position perfect for the Bunch of Jerks.
While this season is culminating in a playoff run for the Canes, it was not a pretty ride. Dougie Hamilton, Brett Pesce, and netminders James Reimer and Petr Mrazek suffered injuries. The Canes dipped in and out of a playoff position frequently in the latter half of the season, and as a result, enter this year’s unique playoff contest as a Wild Card seed.
These injuries combined with scoring struggles present a team on the verge of greatness. I believe, much like Tripp Tracy said during the Cane’s Return to Hockey Roundtable, that if the organization can harness the desperation it chased throughout the season then they will win the qualifying round against the Rangers and even more.
Like last year, the Canes once again find themselves as underdogs in the upcoming unique playoff format. The Rangers swept the Canes during the regular season, and this is exactly the position the Canes were in last season when they faced the Capitals in the first series of the playoffs.
I believe that the reason the Carolina Hurricanes thrive as underdogs is because they are able to harness that desperation that is so necessary to win hockey games when they are facing difficult odds. There is something about coming out on top despite these odds that gives the team the ability to clinch this desperation.
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In an article written after game 7 of the 2019 playoff series against the Washington Capitals, Sara Civian writes about how the bond of the Hurricanes gives the team an advantage against other playoff contenders.
Civian speculates that “The present features a roster less talented than most Cup contenders, but it’s full of players who would “run through hot coals” for each other.”
The wonderful news about this season in comparison to Civian’s statement about the last is that the roster features more talent depth than ever before, and the bond of the players has only strengthened through the struggles of the abbreviated season.
The injury difficulties that the Canes faced forced the team to experiment with new lines and fill holes left by some of their star players. Names like Haydn Fleury come to mind as individuals who stepped up in this time of crisis for the team.
The team bond has been strengthened this year by moments like the already legendary victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs with David Ayres as emergency netminder. I also think Justin Williams‘ surprise return has improved locker room morale and given the team another important asset on the front line.
In the post-game speech linked above, Brind’Amour talks about “supposed to win” games. While there won’t be any of those easy supposed to win games during the postseason, the principal remains nonetheless that the Canes must recognize the challenge ahead and channel that desperation into crucial victories.
The interview above was taken right before the Canes swept the Islanders last year in the playoffs. Like Martinook said here, I still believe that the Canes relish the position of the underdog. A team that didn’t visit the playoffs for 10 years was able to knock off the defending Cup champions and make a run to the Conference finals.
There are still more questions than answers for the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, but there is no doubt that the Canes are still the underdogs. By harnessing the desperation that the Canes utilize as the underdogs and putting it all on the line for each other, the Canes will surge to their second Stanley Cup victory.