On Saturday afternoon, I seemingly jinxed the Hurricanes when I said on Twitter:
— Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) February 9, 2019
On cue, the Hurricanes lost the first of those eight games to the bottom team in the Metropolitan Division.
As I said in my game recap, Sunday’s loss magnifies the importance of Tuesday’s road trip finale in Ottawa. A win still nets a very successful 4-1 road trip. I would happily have taken that before the trip started. But a loss on Tuesday gives up most of what was gained in converting the road trip into a treading water 3-2.
After that, the rest of February primarily features teams in the bottom third of the NHL. The Hurricanes do play the Dallas Stars both at home and on the road, but other than that the Hurricanes face a number of teams who are more in the mix for lottery consideration than playoff contention. At home the Hurricanes also see the Oilers, Rangers and Kings. The non-Dallas road games are Ottawa and Florida.
It is important that the Hurricanes take advantage of the theoretically friendly schedule for the rest of February. The March schedule looks like a gauntlet for some stretches. The team plays five back-to-back sets out of 16 games and also sees a much heavier helping of teams destined for the playoffs.
With Sunday’s loss, the Hurricanes are back to two points out of a playoff spot (adjusted or games played) with the Penguins the closest team. The target should be to enter March at a minimum tied for the last playoff spot and not needing to make up more ground.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What do you think the Hurricanes need to do in the seven remaining games for February to have a real chance come March?
2) What does it take for the Hurricanes to maintain their current high level of play and still be a factor in late March?