The Carolina Hurricanes' first week of the 2024 calendar starts with important contests against Metro Division rivals. The week ends with a return to PNC Arena to host the St. Louis Blues. Trips to New York and Washington will set the tempo for the month and new year.
Tomorrow, the Canes will be coming into Madison Square Garden, just blocks from where the ball dropped on New Year's Eve. The division-leading New York Rangers will be hosting Carolina. 7 points behind the blue shirts, the Canes hold the second position in the Metro Division.
Always a tough test, the Rangers game will be a heated rivalry game and just what these Canes need to remind them of what kind of hockey will await them in the spring. Not only will Carolina need to regain form to get back on track and lock up a playoff spot but this team needs to find another level to reach the Stanley Cup Finals.
On Friday, the Canes will head south to our nation's capital for a matchup against the Washington Capitals. The Capitals currently sit in 4th place in the Metro Division and 4 points behind the Hurricanes.
Washington has hung around the top of the division and the playoff race despite having difficulty finding the back of the net. Many experts feel that the Capitals are just holding on right now and will start to drop down the standings. This will be a good chance at home for the Canes to bury a rival.
Playing back-to-back nights, the Canes will host the Blues. With 3 games in 5 nights, Pyotr Kochetkov and Antti Raanta will need to use the holiday rest to their advantage and keep the opponents at bay so Rod Brind'Amour's group can get the game plan moving in their direction.
A fresh start to the calendar will benefit the mentality of this group and give them a chance to head into the winter months on a positive note.