To be clear, my intent is not to say that everything is okay or that with certainty things will end well. The Hurricanes four-game losing streak and repeats of the same problems are a legitimate cause for concern. But at the same time, the situation is not as dire as it feels in the midst of a long losing streak, and there are still reasons for optimism. And that is the subject for today’s Daily Cup of Joe.
Current place in the standings adjusted for games played
The current standings show the Hurricanes in seventh place in the Metropolitan Division which obviously is not good. But if one counts games in hand as being worth one point (so playing .500 in them), the Hurricanes climb above the Rangers by a point and are only one point behind the Blue Jackets for fifth place and two points behind the Islanders for fourth place. Obviously, this requires collecting points in the games in hand, but the point is that the Hurricanes are not far off the pace despite their recent woes.
Other playoff hopefuls are struggling too
If one counts the Capitals, Flyers and Penguins as being into the playoffs (not a sure thing but likely enough to assume for this exercise), that leaves two wild card slots to be won. By no means is it a certainty, but if you consider the Rangers also to be a team rising based on winning nine out of ten before a three-loss hiccup with a home and home set against the Flyers and another tough match up against the Blues, that still leaves one playoff spot. And by bumping the Rangers up, the teams that are left competing for that one wild card spot are all struggling as much as the Hurricanes right now. The Islanders are 2-7-2 in their last 11 games including three straight losses with the most recent to the Senators. The Blue Jackets blue a two-goal lead in the third period in their last game and lost in overtime and have won only twice in their last 13 games. Overtime loss points are keeping them going right now with a 2-5-6 record in those 13 games. Finally, the Panthers are 1-4-2 in their last seven games.
At least one of those struggling teams will make the playoffs which puts the Hurricanes as an even odds bet even with their recent struggles.
A goalie return could help
By no means can one pin the recent losses on the goalies, but I do think getting one of the two veterans back could be a positive. The wild card is whether Mrazek or Reimer could hit the ground running after a layoff, but the potential is there for a boost.
Maybe increased urgency helps
The 2018-19 Hurricanes played their best hockey once their backs were against the wall. The Hurricanes are nearing that familiar place as we speak. Might that be exactly what the team needs to find focus, determination and a higher gear just like in 2018-19? One can hope.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Despite the recent struggles, are you still able to muster some Canes optimism?
2) What are the chances that all of the Hurricanes, Islanders, Blue Jackets and Panthers struggle to the end such that even a modest finish is enough to back into a playoff spot?
3) How do you think it all ends?