The Carolina Hurricanes 2017 NHL playoff hopes were officially extinguished on Tuesday night when the Ottawa Senators won and in the process eliminated the Canes.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks back on the rough patches that ultimately doomed the season.
Another slow start
The delayed start to the 2016-17 season because of the World Cup meant that the Hurricanes started the season with the NC State Fair road trip. The norm is for the Hurricanes to quickly squeeze in 1-2 home games before departing. The Hurricanes dug an early hole with a 1-3-2 record in the first 6 on the road and the slump continued through to a 3-6-4 mark. If you prorate a 95-point pace over those same 13 games, the Canes were already 5 points off the pace only 13 games into the season. That kind of deficit is not insurmountable, but it is definitely not where anyone wants to be come mid-November. Without the World Cup next fall, the Hurricanes should get a home game or 2 before hitting the road which will hopefully spark a better start.
The gauntlet run in mid-January
In the second week of January, the Hurricanes reeled off 4 straight home wins and made up some ground in the standings in the process. For a brief moment, the Hurricanes were in the eighth and final playoff spot if you ranked teams by games above .500. Ironically, I think I called a top for the 2016-17 season when I wrote an article entitled, “Readying for the road – Are fun wins hiding a growing problem on defense?” The article shared my concerns about the team getting away from its defensive acumen despite the wins. Sure enough, the Hurricanes lost their next 5 straight more or less giving back everything that they had fought to make up over the previous weeks.
Hurricanes bye week blunder
The straw that broke the camel’s back was probably the run of games sandwiched around the bye week. By the time the Hurricanes went on their break, it was no secret that teams were struggling coming out of the bye week and getting back up to NHL speed. The Hurricanes were no different. After losing their last 2 games before the bye week, the Canes proceeded to lose coming out of the break too going 5 games without a win and collecting only a point in 5 games.
Inability to capitalize on short stretch against the NHL’s worst
While still sputtering from the slow stretch coming out of the bye week, the NHL schedule gifted the Hurricanes a run of 3 straight against the NHL’s 2 worst teams (Colorado and Arizona). The Hurricanes managed only 2 out of 6 points and in the process put the finally nails in the casket. The magical 13-game point streak that followed did everything possible to pry the casket back open, but hindsight now tells us that the season was already over.
Hurricanes road woes
My rough math says that to make the playoffs, a team must get two-thirds of the available points at home and half of the available points on the road. That yields a total 95 which is usually about where the cut line is (though it might be a couple points higher this season). If the Hurricanes win their final 2 home games, they will finish with 55 points at home which is right on target. But the Hurricanes 12-19-9 mark right now on the road is 7 points shy of the break even pace needed per my math. A deeper look at the Hurricanes road woes suggests that the problem dates back to earlier in the season. The Canes are actually 5-3-2 on the road since March 1 which is impressive. The problems date back to the front part of the season when the Hurricanes were unable to put things together defensively especially past the top pairing on defense. The recent improvement offers hope but does not eliminate the need to figure out how to garner more production away from home in 2017-18.
What say you Canes fans?
Did I miss any other stretches that doomed the 2016-17 season?
Which of these stretches was most damaging?