Please check back middle of the day Monday for the launch of our first annual Canes and Coffee summer event. There are still a bunch of moving parts, but we are on target to launch mid-day Monday. Who needs sleep? The willingness of enough people (that means YOU) to participate in August will determine if we try to make this an annual tradition or just declare August mostly a vacation in the future. We also think it has the potential to be a fun and perfectly timed event to conjure up some great Canes memories from years past to help everyone muster some optimism heading into next season despite last season’s playoff miss.
If the Canes are going to cook up a surprise push for a playoff spot in 2015-16, I think a good start will need to be an ingredient in the recipe. Last season, the Canes started 0-6-2 and seemingly never even found their way into the season. The team did rebound a bit but the hole was just too big. Even a decent winning streak left the team way behind the pack and needing to repeat the success once if not twice more.
I also think that the biggest turning point for teams going from being pretty bad to good enough to make the playoffs is very much a matter of confidence and a bit of momentum. The 2005-06 Hurricanes were coming off a bad 2003-04 season (remember 2004-05 was missed due to the labor disagreement) and expected to finish near the bottom of the NHL just like they most recently did. That team started fairly well and built confidence quickly. By November that team was playing with a swagger and confidence that looking nothing like the team from the previous season.
For the Canes to have a chance in 2015-16, I think building confidence early is key. The early schedule is challenging and road-heavy as always, so I am not suggesting they need to come out of November in first place in the East. But I do think they need to play their way through the long October road trip in a way that keeps them in the middle of the pack in the standings and builds a bit of confidence.
So that commentary on October gets me to today’s Daily Cup of Joe topic which is a quick review of the 2015-16 schedule:
October: It is the usual. The Canes play two of three at home to start the season and then spend most of the rest of the month on the annual State Fair road trip. If the team comes out of playing seven of its first nine games on the road without any early stress and near .500 that would be solid and 10X better than 2014-15’s early implosion. I also think that October could say something about whether it right to pin last years’ atrocious start on a new system and injuries or whether it is just the norm.
November: It is basically the reverse of October for 2015-16. When you throw in the last game of October (after the long road trip ends) and steal the first three games from December, the Canes play 13 of 17 at home. If the Canes can breakeven mostly on the road in October, this would present the opportunity to run off some wins and officially claim at least an entry in the 2015-16 Metro Division playoff competition.
The other stretches of schedule that jump out at me are the second half of February (home heavy) followed by a reversal in early March (road heavy). After a three road games to start February, the Canes finish the month with eight out of ten at home. Then to start March the team plays seven out of eight on the road. If the Canes are in the neighborhood of a playoff chase, these two stretches could decide if early April matters. The home run presents the chance to hit a groove and rack up points quickly whereas the road stretch in March is dangerous if the team is clinging to hope but banged up and not playing well.
Right now, I would be thrilled if the Canes could play point per game hockey in October to at least get their feet under them early and give the season a chance.