Much of the bye week layoff has been spent bandying around the playoff situation from a few different angles. Tuesday’s Daily Cup of Joe took a shot at handicapping the odds. The Coffee Shop from Thursday had reader discussion and polls about what it would take to make the playoffs.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe aims to identify what it will take for the Hurricanes to make the playoffs and also to do so with a very short list of key drivers not a laundry list of a dozen things that could slightly tilt things favorably. I really think it comes down to three things that all come at it from different angles.
If the Hurricanes do not get reasonably consistent league average or better goaltending for the remainder of the season, the chances of making the playoffs become incredibly slim.
The Hurricanes are two points out of a playoff spot right now (adjusted for games played) and need to catch at least three teams to earn a postseason berth. In addition, with multiple teams in a dead heat right now, it will take a strong second half with a higher winning percentage than the first half to vault over the competition. And it is just too hard to string together any kind of run if too regularly the team is trying overcome a minus at the goalie position.
I really do not think any combination of things will be enough if the goalies do not find a higher gear.
2) A rhythm and a run in early February
If the Hurricanes are to make the playoffs, I think it will require a surge from January 30 through February 23 when the Hurricanes play 11 of 12 games at home. If the team does one step forward/one step backward during that stretch, it will emerge likely still below the playoff cut line and with only 20 games remaining. That would put the team in a position similar to the 2016-17 season. The team played its best hockey of the season in March, surged as much as possible and still missed the playoffs. If the Hurricanes do not win big in early February, a similar ending is highly likely in 2017-18.
3) A different vibe and/or attitude
From the fuzzy category, I continue to think that this team is still searching for a catalyst that helps it find and maintain a higher level of play. We have seen flashes of it in great wins like the recent road in Pittsburgh, but thus far mojo and momentum have proven to be temporary and fleeting. There are times when I feel like I can see Justin Williams trying to will the team to a higher plane, but the young team just is not there yet. I think it will be very hard to find enough momentum to push far enough upward with a hard to measure but sometimes easy to see change in mentality.
I really think everything else is secondary. Give me better goaltending, capitalizing on the streak of 11 out of 12 at home and a team that suddenly gets it and has the mentality of a playoff team, and I think it happens. If the Hurricanes miss on any of these three items, I fear we could see the season carry into late March but ultimately tha the team will again fall short.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Do you agree with this list?
2) Do you think the team can survive a miss on any of these and still make the playoffs?
3) Is there anything that you would add to the list?