What feels like an eternity ago, Jordan Staal and the Carolina Hurricanes were swept from the playoffs. That made it five straight trips to the postseason in consecutive seasons without a Stanley Cup Final Appearance. In a little more than a week that will all be hindsight. For good.
Sure, we have had some preseason action to help get the juices flowing. Now, however, we are entering October, and in a little more than a week meaningful hockey will be played. As with the start of every season, us fans need to have an expectation and a measure of success for which to grade this season on. So, what is it?
Lets start with a bare minimum. Jordan Staal and the Hurricanes have won their division three times straight, and the Metropolitan Division twice in a row. It would be nice to say that we can expect three straight Met titles, but it is fair to expect a postseason appearance. Anything short of that would be not disappointing, but down right disaster.
They have kept much of their roster, and all of their key pieces from last season on the team, and have had some big additions as well. A regression this year would be gut wrenching, as well as put up question marks around the team next offseason being Rod Brind’Amour’s contract year.
The Hurricanes did not leave much more room for improvement, but that bit left is what every Canes fan is hungry for. It will be at least 18 years since their last appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. With their last playoff exit, they have now been swept in three straight Eastern Conference Finals appearances.
After coming so close last year, that’s the only goal, to play for the Cup. Anything else this year is disappointing and borderline demoralizing. But, you can’t get a bye straight to the Cup, its one game at a time. 82 regular season games, then three rounds of playoffs before that privilege. The Canes have to try and go1-0 every day. If they do that more than not, Hurricanes fans will have a lot to cheer for come Spring 2024.