After a disappointing loss on Thursday, the Hurricanes are off to an 0-2 start for the week and have extended their struggles against the Metropolitan Division. Paired with the cloud of what could be bad news on Dougie Hamilton’s injury, and Canes fans will likely wake up with a bit of a negative hockey feeling on Friday. While there is some merit in those feelings, there is actually a legitimate set of positives too.
That is the subject of today’s Daily Cup of Joe.
1) The standings
Even with the consecutive losses, the Carolina Hurricanes still sit in the first wild card spot. The standings shows a tie with Columbus and Philadelphia, but the Canes have a game in hand which when I adjust is the equivalent of a point. And if they need it, the Canes also have the tiebreaker in hand.
There is nothing for cushion, but being on the right side of the playoff cut line through 57 games is a perfectly good place to be.
2) This team still has untapped upside
This team has significant upside in two forms. First, simply in terms of cleaning things up a bit defensively and taking too many penalties, this team can be better. Further, despite being in playoff position, a number of players have the potential to do more for the remainder of the season. That topic was the subject of my Daily Cup of Joe earlier this week.
3) The team is about to add another good player in Justin Williams
In addition to the possible upside for existing players, the Hurricanes just added another player in Justin Williams. He was the the team’s third leading scorer in 2018-19. Regardless of where he slots in the lineup, he figures to be an upgrade. In addition, at a time when the team needs to dig in a bit and fight for points, one could not pick a better addition to help with that challenge. Finally, I think the most immediate impact could be forcing a renewed commitment to fighting for ice at the top of the crease and converting that into a few more ugly goals. Finally, because Williams’ base salary is the league minimum, there is budget to add another player yet too.
4) This team is incredibly young and still rising
By no means do I intend to discount the importance/significance of returning to the playoffs in 2019-20, but worth noting is that this team is incredibly young, still rising and figures to be better not worse going forward. Andrei Svechnikov is in his second NHL season and only 20 years old. Martin Necas is a rookie and only 21 years old. Comparative veteran Sebastian Aho is only 22 years old. Lucas Wallmark and Warren Foegele are also young. There are no guarantees, but simply looking at the makeup of the roster would suggest that the Hurricanes are a team that is still rising and has yet to reach its peak.
5) This team has been here before
Whereas the 2018-19 team was in uncharted territory and trying to do something new, the 2019-20 team is full of players who have been down this road and importantly succeeded. Experience does not guarantee success, but it does help.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Who has more current Canes positives despite the bumps in the road this week?
2) Which of these do you see as most significant?