Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers an honest state of the Canes.
Worth noting is that though I try to consider all information, avoid the despair of recency bias that bad losses bring and be even-handed, the tone of an article like this is no doubt affected by the most recent games which include two bad losses in three games.
Let me start by saying that the current iteration of the Carolina Hurricanes is not a playoff team.
This is not to say that the team will not make the playoffs. Nor is it to say that the team is not talented enough or good enough to make the playoffs. Rather, I think the version of this team that rides ups and downs and maybe lacks a repeatable formula for winning consistently will have a difficult time beating out enough of the teams in the mix in the Eastern Conference. I think the last couple playoff spots will go to teams that can find a level of consistency that mixes very good stretches with still pretty good for lesser stretches. For the Hurricanes to be one of those teams, they will need to find a higher gear than the current one that is full of ups and downs.
But here’s the thing…The 2018-19 Carolina Hurricanes did not look like a playoff team for much of the season either. And this team is in a better position than that team was at this time. But that team did find that higher gear and take a step up. The 2018-19 team became better but maybe more significantly, it became more consistent such that even the lesser efforts still produced winnable games. That transformation did not so much seem to build gradually but rather just happen. As long as the team is still in the pack of teams trying to win the final playoff berths, such a step up by is definitely possible.
Interestingly, I actually think the 2019-20 team is more talented than the 2018-19 team, but there are couple key differences. The 2018-19 team had the blue line as a consistent strength. Especially with Dougie Hamilton’s injury, Brind’Amour is trying to make the defense work, but it just is not the every game strength that it was in 2018-19 both in terms of top end play but also the depth. Further, the late version of the 2018-19 team had an intensity such that the group regularly outworked opponents and had an every shift focus and attention to detail. One of the greatest flaws with the current team is its lack of attention to detail.
So what does it take for this team to chart a different course up and into the playoffs? While I do think adding a defenseman who meshes somewhere in the top 4 could upgrade the defense and decrease the number of break downs, I also think that taking that step up will require the entire roster. Some of the forwards who float around a bit in the defensive zone need to add every second focus defensively. And the team in total needs to become more difficult to play against.
We are nearing crunch time for the playoff chase such that the pressure to find a higher gear is gradually increasing.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Do you think it is possible for the current iteration of the Hurricanes even with the ups and downs have what it takes to make the playoffs?
2) What 1-3 changes do you think are most critical for finding a higher gear and more consistency yet in 2019-20?
3) To what degree do you think a trade of two are a necessary part of the push up into the playoffs?