NHL All-Star weekend
For those who took a short break from hockey to recharge during the NHL All-Star break weekend, aside from a random collection of light fun, two newsworthy items are most notable for me.
First, on the negative side, the NHL announced that a game would in fact be played in Finland in November. Many expected the Carolina Hurricanes with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen might get the nod, but instead the game is between Winnipeg and Florida which is a disappointment.
Second, on the positive side, Noah Hanifin made a fine impression over the weekend in Tampa despite not racking up awards, points or any statistical measures. Hanifin’s skating was off the pace but respectable in the fastest skater competition, but the visual of him whirring around the rink with his hair flowing without a helmet was absolutely fabulous and in my biased Canes-slanted opinion should make any weekend best of lists for photos or GIF-able content.
Local hockey Monday
Closer to home, Monday is still an off day for the NHL, but a big hockey day at PNC Arena nonetheless with a local hockey showdown between UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State hot on the heels of the Wolfpack’s upset win on the basketball court on Saturday. Carolina Hockey preview is HERE. NC State Icepack preview is HERE.
Monday night fun
7pm at PNC Arena
Free parking and suggested $5 donation at the door
Carolina Hockey vs. NC State Icepack
FUN college atmosphere, spirited play and a great way to support our local hockey community!
Five playoff ‘ifs’
And closer to home, the weekend off represented a chance for Hurricanes fans to catch their breath before a fast and furious run of home hockey that likely will decide the fate of the 2017-18 season. I detailed the stretch in Friday’s Daily Cup of Joe which you can find HERE.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe will make an attempt to boil things down to five ‘ifs’ that will decide the season.
1) If the Carolina Hurricanes receive at least league average goaltending, the team will make the playoffs.
2) If the Carolina Hurricanes can find one bigger (5 games or more) winning streak, it will likely be enough to vault them up and standings and at the same time build the confidence and positive momentum that will be necessary to get from there to into the playoffs.
3) If the Hurricanes can hit a stretch of hockey where all of its offensive leaders are clicking at the same time, the margin for error becomes larger and the chance to win every night higher such that the Canes can start to win more consistently and make the playoffs.
4) If Francis swings just one trade and maybe does so early, the dual effect of improving the team and maybe even more significantly making a clear statement to the locker room that it is time for the playoffs will help boost the team up and in.
5) If the Hurricanes can find a change in mentality, that in itself will take care of everything else fuel the conversion from playoff ‘wannabe’ to playoff team.
What say you Caniacs?
1) Which of the five ‘ifs’ are absolutely required, and which are nice to have but not necessary?
2) Is there anything that you would add to the list?
3) How critical are the first three games coming out of the break against current non-playoff teams?