Yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe entitled, “What does it take?” assessed the state of the Canes with regard to climbing back into the playoff chase.
The short answer is that the Canes will probably need to repeat something close to January’s 8-3-1 pace in both February and March.
Based on the fact that the team did it in January, it is obviously possible. But at the same time, it is a tall order to play at that pace for 32 more games and through some challenging stretches of schedule.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks at what will be needed from key players and otherwise to pull it off.
As much as I enjoyed Nedeljkovic’s win in his first NHL start on Wednesday and would like to be proven wrong, I think his time is not here yet. If that proves to be correct, the Hurricanes will need Curtis McElhinney to return from injury and pick up right where he left off. Mrazek has played incredibly well in some games is still the lesser of the two goalies when one considers the 2018-19 season in total. Pushing farther up the standings will likely require McElhinney to return quickly to a high level of play.
Aho really just needs to continue on the path he is on which one to 90ish points. He must lead the line that leads the team’s offense. In addition to sheer volume of scoring, what will be equally critical will be notching enough of the clutch goals in close games that lead directly to points in the standings like the last-minute game-tying goal against Calgary that took the Hurricanes from 0 points to 1 in that game.
He seems to be heating up at just the right time. A couple weeks back he had a nice run of three straight games with goals, but his defensive play was ‘meh’ in those games. This past week Hamilton again found himself on the score sheet, but this time his level of play all-around was much higher. For a team that has intermittently struggled to score, Hamilton finding the higher gear that placed him among the league’s best offensive defensemen in 2017-18 would be a huge help.
Jaccob Slavin/Brett Pesce
The duo was reunited but more recently has played some together and some apart. As games tighten up in the the latter part of the season, the need for sound defensive play can be magnified. Slavin/Pesce has historically been a pair that the team could lean on in tight games. The team will need them to play at the highest level defensively whether together or separated.
Despite the fact that he has been out of the mix and the team has fared well, I still think that Jordan Staal will need to return and also quickly reach his highest level for the team to push up the standings. Like Slavin and Pesce, Staal gives Brind’Amour someone he can lean on in tight games, and though the team’s depth has stepped up, I think Staal will ultimately need to be among the team’s best forwards for the team to take the next step.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Do you agree with the players on my short list of players who must step up for the Canes to also take another step up?
2) Are there any players that you would add to this list, and if so, what would be required of these players?