The Canes have banked 14 out of the last possible 16 points on the schedule, a .875 clip that's lifted them to .571 on the year -- projecting to just over 93 points in the standings for the season (that's skewed a little bit by the recent run, but it's a legit number). They are at the Buffaslugs tomorrow but then the fun begins.
After the jump : The Hurricane's Playoff Drive Ends January 22nd.
In an eight-day stretch starting this Saturday with the Lightning in town the Canes will play 5 games against Eastern Conference teams that are ahead of them in the standings this morning. Tampa, Boston back-to-back, the Rangers, and Pittsburgh are on the docket after the Buffalo game, and those 10 points will give us a definitive answer to the question of whether Carolina will make the post-season this Spring.
And the difference is only one point.
The last playoff spot in the EC is on pace to end up with 97 points in the standings -- winning .591 of available points. For the Hurricanes to get to 97 points they would need to win at a .6125 clip their remaining 40 games. That means they need to take a minimum of six of every 10 points for the rest of the year. In that 5-game stretch between January 15th and 22nd, 6 points is a steep task. A lot of fans would be thrilled to pull 5 points out of that 5-game-in-8-day gauntlet, but that extra point against teams ahead of the Canes can -- and I think will -- be the difference at the end of the season.
As a fan I am really excited to see how this team does against that competition. Besides having a better idea of the numbers, I think we'll have an emotional evaluation of whether Carolina is a playoff team or not.