The Carolina Hurricanes play some very meaningful hockey games this week but the ultimate goal is ahead of them when the playoffs begin later this week. A fresh chance to compete for the cup is coming shortly.
This is a team that tasted success last season in the regular season but suffered a heartbreaking defeat in the playoffs. These players want the opportunity to win the Stanley Cup and they have earned a ticket to the playoffs no matter what happens this week.
The best path to winning a cup is by winning your division but either way, this Canes team will need to battle and fight its way to the promised land. This will come from finishing first, second, or third.
Rod Brind’Amour has molded this team to play gritty but with urgency to push the puck up the ice. They can win in a dirty, sloppy, or crisp game. Do not get confused, this team is built for the playoffs.
Injuries happen to every organization and all players are beaten up when the spring arrives so excuses are not accepted and will not be accepted in Raleigh.
The mindset of the Hurricanes has been to get back to the playoffs and take away the taste of defeat from the New York Rangers series last season. That can be mentally draining with a long 82-game season.
The Metro Division has been theirs for quite some time but the fatigue of this season and unfortunate injuries have obviously taken their toll on them.
The best thing for their mental state is having a fresh start and that is what the playoffs will provide. When the page turns from the regular season to the playoffs, things change and it is a perfect time for this tired group.
Whether it be the goaltenders or the lines, the start of the playoffs is a chance to erase the thought of potential and just win now, no matter what it takes.
Whether this week turns out for the best, playoff hockey will be back in Raleigh and no one in the Canes locker room has forgotten the feeling of coming up short last season.