After a five-day layoff, the Carolina Hurricanes will embark on what could be considered a second phase of the 2019-20 season. Many consider the NC State Fair road trip to be the cause of the hole that the Hurricanes have traditionally dug by mid-December, but I actually think the bigger factor has been the team’s inability make hay in November which in many years has featured a healthy helping of home games.
With a 6-3 start, the team has take a small, positive step toward not requiring second half heroics and a minor miracle in the second half of the season to make the playoffs. But again, November and early December will be critical. The Hurricanes close out October with a tough rematch against Columbus who continues to be a tough out because of their style of play even minus stars Bobrovsky and Panarin, the Blackhawks and then another match up against a 2019 playoff team in the Flames. But after that the schedule turns decidedly toward teams that struggled in 2018-19. All of the next 13 games are against teams that missed the 2019 playoffs. No doubt some of those teams are better in 2019-20 with the Sabres being one good example. But in total the stretch of schedule is a favorable one with pairs of games against beatable teams in the Senators, Flyers, Rangers and Red Wings. When that stretch of schedule concludes, it will be Thanksgiving weekend, and the Hurricanes will be nearly one-third through the 2019-20 NHL season with 25 of 82 games played. In addition, what follows is a tougher stretch of schedule that includes a healthy helping of some of the NHL’s top teams which just makes the November run even more important.
When a team is playing well, schedule and opponent often do not matter. In addition, Hurricanes fans know too well that favorable match ups mean very little when a team is struggling. But there can be an element of pairing strong play with favorable schedule to reel off some wins.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Will this be the November when the Hurricanes win and make the rest of the season easier? Or is it just inevitable that November is spent digging a hole to try to climb out of in the second half of the season?
2) What would be your target for the last three games in November against Columbus, Chicago and Calgary? What would be your target for the 13 games that follow against teams that missed the playoffs for the 2018-19 season?