For the loyalists who burned the midnight to watch consecutive lackluster performances and losses, there is plenty of recent ammunition to wake up negative on the Carolina Hurricanes.
My aim is not to deny that there are legitimate negatives right now but rather to show that there are positives too.
1) Decent (not great) playoff positioning
Even with the consecutive losses, the Hurricanes are a game above .500. That is not a playoff pace, but it is not that far off. As measured by games above .500, the Canes are only two points out a playoff spot now one-third of the way through the season. For many teams, the path to the playoffs includes a whole bunch of treading water combined with one big winning streak. The Hurricanes continue to tread water. No doubt, they will need to find a hotter stretch, but there is no reason why that must occur in the first half of the season.
I would not call it final, but I do think that where the Hurricanes are goalie-wise right now is as good as the team has been in many years. Curtis McElhinny has downright stolen games and just been good in general of late. And Petr Mrazek played really well in Sunday’s loss despite the outcome. Sure, the Hurricanes need to figure out scoring, but the perennial struggle with netminding is gone at least for now.
3) The Charlotte Checkers
The Checkers continue to sit atop the entire AHL. AHL success does not guarantee NHL success, but it does help. Building a winning attitude for young players is valuable. In addition, the winning record should suggest that at least some of the players are on the path to being productive players in the NHL.
I am never one to tell people to be patient. Each fan should is entitled to his or her own feelings about the team. But it is important to remember how young this team is at forward. The team’s bottom two lines have two rookies each on them. That bodes well in two first. First, the chances of this team improving out a year or two is high. Maybe more significantly though, there is no reason why that upside could not be realized in the second half of the current season as the rookies get their feet under them and start charting a course upward.
5) The blue line
Even if imperfect, the blue line is solid. A team that can play Brett Pesce on the third pairing is deep. And Faulk’s resurgence the defense is above average or better. More significantly, I also think the group has potential upside scoring-wise which would be a huge benefit if realized.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Do you take exception to any of my five positives?
2) Who has more than can push the total to 10 or at least close?