warning signs canes weekly

Warning signs: Canes Weekly [02/10/2018]

The Carolina Hurricanes experienced a difficult week from the top down. It seemed as if the Canes had lost their shot at the playoffs within the week’s time.

However, nothing could be further from the truth as the Canes are one point from a playoff position.

Can’t score, can’t win

warning signs canes weekly

(Photo by James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)

In three straight games this past week against Detroit, San Jose and Philadelphia, the Canes struggles to score. The team scored just three goals in those three games before scoring four against Vancouver. (one in each since Friday). You cannot win games if you do not score goals (see The “goal” of making the playoffs).

Now the Caniacs are calling for the players’ heads, but honestly, when do they not? Of course the fans want to see goals, but more than goals, they want to see consistency in wins. The Hurricanes have to find ways to put the puck in the net with the players they have.

The team has scored 141 goals in 54 games for a 2.61 goals-per-game average this season. Those stats are good for 25th in the league. Thus, the Canes need someone to step up on the front end.

#Redvolution

warning signs canes weekly

(Photo from nhl.com/hurricanes)

The Hurricanes are known for asking their fans to join the #Redvolution. Yet, there are many fans that are more contaminating than anything else.

Yes, hold the players accountable and give your opinions, but more fans need to be “Caniac Fanatics” than critics. Express some passion and enthusiasm for the team. No one enjoys playing in front of the “haters.” Hence, why home-ice advantage is so important in many cases.

In 2006, the Canes rode the passion of North Carolina to the Cup. When the fan base is present in full, the PNC Arena can be one of the hardest places to play. This team has struggled through a tough week and would love nothing more than a welcoming cheer from their fans.

Has the panic button been pressed?

Coming off three straight wins, the Canes entered the second half of a back-to-back against the Detroit Red Wings. Losing 4 – 1 was tough, but panic set in after a tough loss to the talented San Jose Sharks. Things have unfolded since then, something that may possibly become the turning point in the season.

In reaction to the loss, coach Bill Peters commented, “There are at least three that can go in, and if it’s not those three, there’s a group down in Charlotte, too. You can’t put that group out again after that.”

Not much of a confidence-booster. Of course, Peters might have a right to be upset, but respect the team that has placed you in position for the playoffs.

warning signs canes weekly

(Photo from Getty Images)

Considering the rough start to the season for goalie Scott Darling, this team has played well. That being said, general manager Ron Francis sent fourth line staples, Josh Jooris and Marcus Kruger to their AHL affiliate Charlotte Checkers. Thankfully, the two cleared waivers and the Canes will retain their contracts. Both of these players are not goal-scorers, but are solid fourth line guys who can kill penalties and play tough minutes.

Kruger was a part of two Stanley Cup Championships with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013 and 2015. This is experience that the Hurricanes need down the stretch of the season. Sending down Jooris is more reasonable, but he is still a player that has played hard and well in the few minutes and games he has been given.

Response time

Whether or not Peters and Francis have caused a panic attack, the players must continue to push for the playoffs. How will they react? Will they be a resilient bunch, or will everything come crashing down? The next few games are critical for this team.

 

Featured image from NHL.com/hurricanes.

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Metropolitan Division

Things are very much congested in the Metropolitan Division

I have been slightly incorrect in the past. The central does have have the better collection of teams overall. However, the Metropolitan Division currently has the most traffic…

Prior to games on February 8th:

  1. Washington Capitals – 67 points – 29 games remaining
  2. Pittsburgh Penguins – 63 points – 27 games remaining
  3. New Jersey Devils – 62 points – 30 games remaining
  4. Philadelphia Flyers – 59 points – 29 games remaining
  5. Columbus Blue Jackets – 58 points – 29 games remaining
  6. New York Islanders – 58 points – 28 games remaining
  7. Carolina Hurricanes – 57 points – 28 games remaining
  8. New York Rangers – 55 points – 28 games remaining

This is not the most talented division, nor does it possess a top three team, but each club is in play for the postseason. Both wild card spots in the East are held by a member of the Metro. It is one hundred percent a three-man race in the Atlantic. This makes for just a 4-point separation between the number one wild card spot (held by the Flyers) and the last place Rangers. The margin for error gets smaller and smaller as every single game now has playoff implications.

So, we meet again…probably

The matchup everyone now looks forward to every season is most likely forthcoming again. It is always known that Sidney Crosby is a three-time Stanley Cup Champ while Alex Ovechkin has yet to reach a conference final…in fact, Crosby has served as Ovi’s kryptonite having never beaten him in the playoffs. The past two years each of their teams have met in the second round with the Penguins winning in six in 2016, then in seven in 2017. There is a very good chance we see this movie yet again this Spring…

Metropolitan Division

Photo from NHL.com

Washington Capitals: Why they will finish in the top three of the Metro

Alexander Ovechkin – 32 goals (leads league)/26 assists/58 points (11th in league)/+12

Depth – Four Players (Ovechkin/Kuznetsov/Backstrom/Carlson) with at least 40 points

Braden Holtby – 27 wins (tied for 3rd in league)

Pittsburgh Penguins: Why they will finish in the top three in the Metro

Trending upwards – 7-3-0 in their last 10 – 20-7-1 on home ice

Special Teams – Power play is 26.8% (leads league) – Penalty Kill is 82.5% (7th in league)

Experience – 15 of their 20 current players on roster have won a Stanley Cup together

We have the cast and crew ready to go. The two teams battled it out on the Friday before the Super Bowl in D.C. with Pittsburgh prevailing 7-4. Will we see the same ending to this trilogy as we have seen in the previous two??…or will the Washington Capitals finally breakthrough and compete for a Stanley Cup??

You gonna make a move or stand pat??

Philadelphia Flyers: Sell it seems like

The Flyers are too inconsistent to be true contenders in the East (5-4-1 in their last 10). Therefore, selling would be smart to keep adding prospects and draft picks to keep building for the future. Ron Hextall added a first rounder in the offseason for Brayden Schenn. Seeing what the market would bring for someone like Wayne Simmonds (which would be a bundle) would be smart. “It all depends on what’s coming back” Hextall says (The Inquirer).

Columbus Blue Jackets: Buy more than likely

The Jackets have scored the least amount of goals (139) of any team in the Metropolitan Division. They are -11 on the year and will look to bolster their roster offensively. Columbus is a league-worst 14.1% on the power play as well. Looking around the league, a reunion with Rick Nash may be the best option.

Metropolitan Division

Photo from NY Daily News

New York Islanders: Toss up

Star Center for the Isles John Tavares is on pace for a 40-goal/90-point season. He is in his prime at 27 and has an expiring contract and will become a free agent on July 1st. Islanders’ GM does not expect to move him before the deadline, but seeing what the market will offer may be in his best interest. The team also knows how to put the puck in the net better than any team in the Metro with 181 goals on the year, but gives up more than anyone in the division (197 goals against). Bolstering their defensive core will be on their minds one way or the other.

One point separates these three teams. All are in play for the postseason. If you have a shot to make the playoffs, the advice should always be to go for it. The parity is real…ask Nashville.

Close, but no cigar

The Hurricanes and Rangers round out the bottom two in this jam packed division. The Rangers have asked Rick Nash for his no-trade list, but GM Ron Francis has not ruled out buying before the deadline. Two different approaches, but similar team finishes if changes don’t soon occur…

Metropolitan Division

Photo from NHL.com

New York Rangers: Selling most likely

Trending downwards – 3-7-0 in their last 10 – 8-14-2 on the road (16 road games left)

No elite scoring – 0 players with 40+ points

Carolina Hurricanes: Buying??

Trending downwards – 4-5-1 in their last 10 – -20 goal differential (worst in division)

Elite scoring and depth – two players (Teravainen/Aho) with 40+ points – five players with 30+ points

As constructed, neither of these teams are dangerous come mid-April. However, if either GM decides that this year is worth giving up significant pieces for their future with how tight the standings are, this could be extremely interesting down the stretch.

Do it

Whether you’re buying, selling or standing pat on February 26th, do it. Very rarely do all seven-eight teams in a division have a clear shot at ending up in the playoffs. All you have to do is get to the dance and right now, the last place Rangers are just three points out of that last wild card spot…

The Hurricanes have a Stanley Cup-winning net minder in Cam Ward and the Rangers obviously have a hall of fame goalkeeper in King Henrik. You can win any playoff series with hot goaltending. Anything can happen. Whatever these teams are thinking, each have a shot…so do it.

 

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