The Carolina Hurricanes wrap up their final miniseries against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight in what will be the Canes’ final home game of the regular season. After tonight, the Carolina Hurricanes have two games remaining on the regular season schedule, both against the Nashville Predators on the road.
The Chicago Blackhawks haven’t been able to do much against the Carolina Hurricanes this season; the record between the two teams this season (before tonight’s matchup) stands at 5-2-0 in favor of the Canes.
There isn’t much left to be said about what the Carolina Hurricanes need to do tonight to beat a team they’ve beaten twice in a row (and 5 times on the whole this season) in the past several days.
We’ve gone over the impact that both mainline goalies have on the ice when each of them draws in. We’ve talked about the lineup changes, the efficiency and effectiveness of the powerplay and penalty killing units. We’ve talked about the SAT line heating up at juuuuust the right time heading into the playoffs. We’ve talked about injuries, scratches (healthy and otherwise), players on the upswing, players on the downswing. Hot streaks, cold streaks, players going through peaks, valleys, and plateaus.
Today’s “keys” article is going to have one main focus: the implications of the next couple games, what it means for the Carolina Hurricanes in the race to win the President’s Trophy, and what the playoffs will look like for the Canes based on how all of that shakes down.
First and foremost, the Carolina Hurricanes remain in the first place spot in both the NHL and the Discover Central Division. After winning their most recent game, the Canes can’t finish lower than 2nd in the Central Division – this means they’ll have guaranteed home-ice advantage for at least the first round of the 2020-21 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The ‘magic number’ for the Canes to clinch the Division is 3 points; if Tampa Bay loses and the Canes win (or gain a point in OT/SO), the Canes clinch the Central Division and will have home-ice advantage for the first 2 rounds of the playoffs. This would also clinch the #2 spot in the league for the Canes.
The ‘magic number’ for the Canes to clinch the President’s Trophy is 6. The Canes either need to win the rest of their games in the regular season or hope Vegas and Colorado lose at least two of their remaining games while winning two of their own remaining games to clinch the #1 spot in the league and guarantee home-ice advantage throughout the entirety of the playoffs.
All of this is to say that even though the Carolina Hurricanes have punched their ticket to the playoffs, each of these last three games is important; they literally shape the landscape of the Canes’ first few rounds of playoff contention, and could even shape the landscape of the playoffs down to the Stanley Cup Finals (knock on wood).
The only key to tonight’s game is this: win. Win this one, win the next two, and the Canes will be setting themselves up for the easiest (read: least bumpy) path to the Cup they’ve had in franchise history.
Buckle up, folks. The next week or two is going to be intense, and I think we’re going to be in for some damned good hockey.
Location: PNC Arena
Puck Drop: 7:00pm EST
TV: Bally Sports South
Radio: 99.9 The Fan
Uniforms: Red Homes
- Svechnikov – Aho – Teravainen
- Niederreiter – Trocheck – Necas
- Foegele – Staal – Fast
- McCormick – Lorentz – Geekie
- Slavin – Hamilton
- Skjei – Pesce
- Bean – Hakanpaa
Projected Goalie Matchup:
Carolina: Petr Mrazek – 6-1-2, .934 SV%, 1.75 GAA
Chicago: Collin Delia – 0-3-0, .881 SV%, 4.04 GAA
Moneypuck.com gives the Carolina Hurricanes a 73% chance of winning tonight’s matchup.