The need to seize wins in favorable games

The need to seize wins in favorable games

So I just finished writing a long and detailed article entitles “Seeking heroes…and taking the next step” only to see it seemingly disappear into the ether of the internet. If this is what the internet looks like post net neutrality, I’m quitting. 🙂 More seriously, I do not have the energy to re-write that article right now, so I will instead pull out something else that I have some scribbled notes on. In the NHL, there is enough parity that there is no such things as a sure win. Bottom teams beat top teams on a fairly regular basis. But good teams do seem to have an uncanny knack for winning most of the games that they should and also rebounding and cutting losing streaks short. For the young Carolina Hurricanes, I would say that this is still a work in progress. Right when the team was surging and trying to play its way back into the 2016-17 season, it somehow managed to lose to bottom dwellers Arizona and Colorado. The 2017-18 season has featured a few puzzling losses to. The team entered Thanksgiving week generally playing good hockey only to lay an egg twice before eking out an overtime win against Nashville salvage something from the week. The Hurricanes near-term schedule features a couple important rounds of games that the team needs to win. It starts with a huge match up in Buffalo on Friday night. The Sabres are near the bottom of the NHL, are 3-5-2 in their past 10 games and played and traveled on Thursday night to boot. The game looks favorable for the Hurricanes...
Re-handicapping the Metropolitan Division

Re-handicapping the Metropolitan Division

Through 30 games of the 2017-18 NHL season, the Carolina Hurricanes have two problems. The first is that they have not been good enough. The team’s 31 points in 30 games is on pace for 85 points which is two short of its 2016-17 total and destined to be about 10 points short of a playoff berth regardless of how the competition shapes up. The second problem is that the competition in the Metropolitan Division has played well through 30ish games. Worth noting is that the Hurricanes would still be below the playoff cut line and chasing the same teams in the Metro if they were instead in that Atlantic Division, but the vantage point sitting in fourth place would feel much better than their current eighth. With enough games to evaluate teams based on actual game action, today’s Daily Cup of Joe reassesses the Metropolitan foes.   (Standings based on games above .500 to adjust for games played Columbus Blue Jackets First place — 19-11-1 The Blue Jackets picked up right where they left off during the regular season in 2016-17. Columbus has been near the top of the division most of the season and seems destined to finish the season there. Vulnerabilities: The Blue Jackets are deep at both forward and defense and do not rely on a small number of players to drive play. The only big vulnerability I see is if Sergei Bobrovsky was injured and missed a significant number of games. Short of a Bobrovsky injury, I do not see the Blue Jackets as a team that the Hurricanes likely to chase/catch.   New...
Carolina Hurricanes random thoughts

Carolina Hurricanes random thoughts

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a short collection of random thoughts…   Scott Darling One of the biggest challenges for the Hurricanes right now is getting consistently decent or better goaltending. Though not perfect himself, Ward has been the better of the two goalies. On the one hand, Peters and the team in general needs to have an overarching bias toward forcing Scott Darling into the starting role until it works. That said, I think an interesting step on the path to accomplishing that might be to shut Scott Darling down for a few games. To be clear, my aim is NOT to punish him or play mind games. Rather, the aim is very simply to give him a chance to just completely reset and start fresh. There are no guarantees that this would have the desired effect, but given the current trajectory of Darling’s play, I think it is worth a try.   Overtime The Hurricanes shootout win on Tuesday marked the eleventh time that the Hurricanes have played extra hockey in only 30 games. The Hurricanes are now 4-7 which means they have left 1.5 points on the table relative to average and even more if they could beat the average.   Trying to make it February I said before it started that I would be happy with a 5-4 record for the nine-game stretch that includes to current six-game road trip followed by a single stop at home before two more road games. I stand by that assertion despite the fact that treading water is increasing the gap between the Hurricanes and the teams that...
Gm30 @Veg: Canes net gutsy win in first trip to Las Vegas for Cam Ward’s 300th win

Gm30 @Veg: Canes net gutsy win in first trip to Las Vegas for Cam Ward’s 300th win

As luck would have it, I was pulled away for family stuff midway through the last of the west coast part of the Canes road trip and watched the second half of the game on DVR even later than the regular schedule. Like many other Hurricanes fans, I will be happy to be back in the Eastern time zone this weekend but am happy I stayed up for the western finale.   Above all else… …The Hurricanes desperately needed a win of any kind, so the result is HUGE. With the Hurricanes sputtering on the road, and the majority of the Metropolitan Division playing well, the season was starting to slide down the hill. The Hurricanes know from recent experience just how hard it is to make up too much ground in January through April if you dig a hole, and digging a hole is exactly what they have been doing of late.  At least on Tuesday, the Hurricanes were able to dig a foot into the ground and at least temporarily halt the slide. Everything else is minutiae compared to the top line result at a time like this.   Cam Ward wins #300 The other big headline is Cam Ward earning his 300th career win which is an impressive milestone and even cooler when one considers that all of those wins have been in a Hurricanes uniform. Ironic that win #300 came via shootout win just like win #1 many years ago.   The game itself The game was a gutsy effort by the team. Having played and traveled the night before, Vegas entered with a physical...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm30 @Veg: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm30 @Veg: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again

When the 2017-18 schedule was published, who would have figured the Vegas Golden Knights for being in a playoff spot and the Carolina Hurricanes again being toward the bottom of the NHL standings? Not I. But the Vegas Knights are currently in second place in the Pacific Division and well above the playoff cut line. Even more impressive is that the team has played mostly without starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, has used five goalies already and has played most of the season in front of Maxime Lagace who in early October was fourth on the team’s depth chart (behind Marc-Andre Fleury, Malcom Subban and Calvin Pickard who was traded to Toronto). Hailing from a city where odds and betting are the central point of the economy, the odds of Vegas making the playoffs suddenly look incredibly good and true to Las Vegas form so do a number of other interesting side bets. But Cinderella story and surprise aside, the Hurricanes have reached the point where none of it matters. Regardless of opponent, situation or anything else the team just desperately needs a win to snap the current losing streak and try to build some semblance of momentum before it is too late.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes against the Vegas Golden Knights   1) Goaltending With the expectation that Ward will get the start in the second half of the back-to-back set, Ward’s play is worth watching. He has not been stellar by any means, but at least in terms of recent play, he has been the better of Hurricanes two goalies. In his last start...