The Carolina Hurricanes enter the post-Christmas break part of the NHL season right about where most of the experts picked them to finish before the season started – near the bottom and in better position for the draft lottery than the spring playoff chase. But at 8 points behind the last playoff spot, the Hurricanes 2015-16 is not completely over but very much at the point where the it is time to either make a hard push if 1 is going to happen for this season.
The first game after the break follows a decent effort right before it against the NHL’s best but with a disappointing result. How the Hurricanes respond over the next week or 2 is the biggest thing to watch past the ‘future stories’ of the kids on D and in general plus what could become a growing story of who gets traded where and when.
Here is what I am watching for Saturday’s game against New Jersey:
1) The reaction and push
Do the Hurricanes convert whatever disappointment carried over from Tuesday’s loss into an even higher level of effort and determination?
2) The leadership
Do the leaders rise up and lead 1 big push to try to play into the playoff hunt? Or do they seem resigned to another playoff miss?
3) The kids on D
When all else fails, this continues to be my favorite thing to watch.
It is purely hunch, but I think the Canes will muster 1 more big push into early January. It is not clear that this will be enough, but as a fan who will in PNC Arena at least into early April, this is what I want right now.