A 3-1 win in Columbus is exactly what the Carolina Hurricanes needed to do to keep their playoff hopes alive. As of now, the Hurricanes sit seven points outside of a Wild Card spot. If the Hurricanes continue their efforts, they have to go nearly perfect for a sure shot at taking a spot in the playoffs. If the Hurricanes go 11-1-1 in their next 13, their chances are just above 90 percent, so shooting for 12 wins will be their prerogative.
Taking a step back, what if they don’t make the playoffs? If in fact they aren’t able to tally 12 wins, the Hurricanes will record their fifth straight season sitting on the outside looking in.
According to this article in the News and Observer, Head Coach Kirk Muller sent a strong message to the team on Monday March 17 making it clear that the team must stick together in order to win games. One main point that really struck a nerve was stating that he is "wanting guys who want to make a difference." He spoke of not wanting any "passengers" and they must do everything together.
"You’ve got to battle every day," Muller told the team. "You can’t sit there and look at the standings and the points and what-if this or whatever. … You’re all pros and you’re expected to be at your best every day, and that’s what we have to be."
His message was clearly received as the team was able to sneak past the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday night, who currently stand in the Hurricanes’ way of clinching a Wild Card spot.
Let’s say things don’t turn out the way we had hoped, but the Canes at least end the season on a positive note going forward. Whether it looks like it or not, the Canes’ future is very optimistic.
Many Canes fans are overly concentrated on the present. As for Jim Rutherford, he is focused on the franchises’ foreseeable future. Although Rutherford hasn’t made any moves that are "gutsy", he’s stuck with the trades that he is certain will make a difference and so far they have been solid. Not to mention he put together the entire 2006 Stanley Cup winning team.
Carolina has gone four years without a playoff appearance. Should it be considered acceptable for a professional team? No. However, there are many teams that have endured worse droughts, like the Hurricanes’ ’06 counterpart Edmonton Oilers who have yet to make the playoffs since, and teams there are that have been around for four plus decades without a Stanley Cup to their name. There have also been teams that have never even made it past the first round of the playoffs. The New York Islanders lingered 19 years before seeing a playoff berth again.
The point here is that there are going to be decisions within the organization people agree or disagree with and there is nothing wrong with being critical of the hometown team. Yet, in the Hurricanes case, their situation should be viewed with the glass being half full. Every team will suffer it’s uphill battles and the tough times but that is what makes the success that much sweeter.
The present needs a little bit of adjusting but the future for looks very promising. Elias Lindholm, Jeff Skinner, and Ryan Murphy have all shown that they have potential to be great players and have yet to even reach their prime.
There is so much success in such little of a time frame within the organization that we can look back making the case that there shouldn’t be any doubt that the Hurricanes will emerge victorious and successful again. Rutherford said everything will be evaluated at the end of the season, so the only thing to do now is play the waiting game.