Trudging slowly through the dog days of August that yield nothing in terms of significant NHL news most days, I took another look at the Carolina Hurricanes 2016-17 schedule today.
Here is a collection of random thoughts on the slate:
Critical start: Because of the late NHL season start because of the World Cup and the usual NC State Fair conflict, the Hurricanes will open with 6 straight road games. After slow starts doomed the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, getting out of the starting gate better is the first critical test for the 2016-17 season. Six straight road games is tough, but the potential silver lining is that the competition is mediocre. The first 4 opponents (Winnipeg, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary) also missed the playoffs last season. The last 2 opponents (Philadelphia, Detroit) were playoff teams but not of the upper echelon elite variety.
Mark your calendars for the home opening on October 28: The Friday tilt features a Metropolitan Division foe and a fan base that comes out in numbers when the Rangers play in Raleigh. Get your tickets! Get your friends some tickets! Let’s fill PNC Arena with red, black and white.
Chance to make hay after big road trip: After 2 home games against previous season playoff teams to close out October, the Canes see what looks to be a friendly stretch of schedule, at least based on the 2015-16 standings. November starts with a run of 8 out of 12 games against teams that did not make the the playoffs last season. In a league where 16 of 30 teams do make the playoffs, this looks to be a favorable run to build early momentum if the team can emerge from the initial road trip at least in okay shape.
Panthers football conflicts: The Sunday-heavy Canes schedule lines up across from Panthers’ games pretty frequently which could make for a tough draw in terms of attention and attendance. For the NFL regular season, the Hurricanes have 1 game that lines up against a Panthers home game on October 30 and 4 TV conflicts where the Panthers are on the road for November 6 and 27 and December 4 and 19 (Monday night). The Canes also have home games on Sunday of the first week of the NFL playoffs and Saturday of the second week of the NFL playoffs which could become additional schedule conflicts.
Home sweet home!: The Hurricanes busiest home month is December which features a season high 8 home games with only 5 on the road.
Busy, busy, busy: The Hurricanes finish with a torrid run of 22 games in 41 days to finish the season. The stretch includes an unheard of 5 games in a single week from March 13-19.
The finish line: The season finishes with an odd 7pm Sunday finale in Philadelphia after home games on Thursday and Sunday. Here is hoping that this busy and late finish features meaningful games and wonderful weather for tailgating for the Thursday and Saturday games at PNC Arena. Yesterday’s article featured 4 Hurricanes players whose 2016-17 season could be a crossroads and difference-makers for making these last few games matter.
What jumps out at you from the Carolina Hurricanes 2016-17 schedule? Which home games are you most looking forward to?