When the Hurricanes pulled off an impressive win on Saturday night, the team moved into a tie for the third and final playoff spot in the Metropolitan. In the topsy-turvy Eastern Conference that sees literally every team still within striking distance of a playoff spot, the Canes have since been passed and will be on the outside looking in by a point or two when they return to the ice on Tuesday night at PNC Arena.
Looking backward on the first 28 games of the Carolina Hurricanes 2018-19 season
When one looks back on the first 28 games that represent just over one-third of the season, the first third has been a roller coaster to put it mildly. The team stormed through preseason and then continued into the regular season running out to a 4-0-1 mark. Since then the team has seen lows that have at least matched the highs on the way to a 13-11-4 record. That record puts the team in a cluster of seven teams currently on the outside looking in on the playoffs but no more than four points off the pace. After 28 games, the standings in the middle and bottom of the Eastern Conference have only minimally more spacing than when all of these teams started the season tied at 0-0-0.
Half full says that with a rookie coach and a young team, especially at forward, that the Hurricanes did well getting their feet under them and have the potential to get better as the season wears on. Half full also says that the Hurricanes have not one but two goalies playing well right now and so far eliminating what has been a huge weakness.
But half empty says that this team will struggle to score enough such that if the goalies cool even slightly it will be really tough to win.
Looking forward to the middle third of the season
With an eye for finding a run of wins to push above the fray and also recognizing that holes dug in December can be tough to recover from, the Hurricanes upcoming schedule looks like this:
A home stretch leading up to Christmas
Starting with Tuesday’s match up against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Hurricanes play six of their next seven games leading up to Christmas at home. The stretch features some tough competition, but it also represents a chance to capitalize on home ice.
Then back to the road
Then starting after Christmas, the Hurricanes play six out of eight games on the road with six of those games being against Metropolitan Division foes.
If the Hurricanes struggle through the home stretch, the run of road games that follow could put the 2018-19 season in a precarious position leading up to the midway point of the season. If instead the Hurricanes can make hay at home, the team could enter the important stretch of divisional games higher in the standings and with momentum.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Relative to preseason hopes/expectations, how would you rate the team’s results through 28 games?
2) How do you predict the team will fare during the upcoming stretch of five out of six at home?
3) Which stretch of upcoming schedule looks most promising? Which stretch looks most ominous?