There is no sugar-coating the Hurricanes 0-3 week in terms of playoff optimism. The schedule was tough enough that I would have been very happy with 3 points and even content with 2, but 0 is tough. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe entitled “Righting the ship” offered the simple view of what the Hurricanes need to do to get back on track.
But I stand by my January 4 post with “10 reasons why the Carolina Hurricanes will make the playoffs.”
The Eastern Conference standings
But if you pull yourself up above the negative vibe from losing 3 straight and go to the standings, the situation is actually still pretty good. The short version is that 4 teams from the Metropolitan Division continue to run away from the pack and also that 3 teams from the Atlantic Division obviously get playoff berths to. But if you put aside those 7 teams, no one else fighting for the eighth spot is clicking right now either.
In fact, using games above .500 for the standings, the Hurricanes are only a single point out of the last playoff spot entering Monday’s action.
In playoffs: Capitals, Blue Jackets, Penguins, Rangers, Canadiens, Senators, Maple Leafs.
Standings for #8 spot:
Red Wings +1
Basically, when you net it out, every single team in the Eastern Conference still has a chance to win the last playoff spot.
Also worth noting is that the teams also in the mix for the final wild card slot are also mostly sputtering.
Flyers: The Flyers finally won after limping into their bye week with 2 straight losses and then exiting the bye week with another loss. They were 1-1 for the week.
Boston: The Bruins are sputtering mightily right now. They had an 0-3-1 record for the weekend and have had coaching change rumors surface.
The afterthoughts are capitalizing: Interestingly the collection of teams most left out of playoff discussions recently are the teams on the rise. The Red Wings (2-0-2), Islanders (3-0-1), Devils (2-1) and Sabres (3-1) all had productive weeks and are now within 3 points (adjusted for games played) of the final wild card position.
What do the Hurricanes need to do?
It is very simple really. The Hurricanes need to rebound and put together a win streak. With the volume of teams still in the mix, it is not so much about scoreboard watching as putting it all back together and reeling off a stretch of 9-1-ish hockey to push above the pack. Monday’s match up with the Capitals is a tough 1, but after that the schedule is reasonably friendly for the next month in terms of volume of rest days, number of home games and even to some degree difficulty of schedule.