The Carolina Hurricanes are on the verge of being eliminated as they have fallen into a 3-0 abyss against the all-powerful Pittsburgh Penguins in this year's Eastern Conference Finals. Some Canes fans are upset. Some are disappointed. Some are downright demoralized.
But things could always be worse, Caniacs.
Remember back in 2002-03? The Canes suffered one injury after another, to the point of calamity. One of the franchise's winningest and most popular goaltenders ended up being banished to the ECHL. The highlight of the season was watching the new kids from Lowell score their first ever NHL goals. The Hurricanes finished dead last in the NHL that year, and scored the fewest goals in modern NHL history.
Suddenly with some perspective, being down 3-0 in the conference finals isn't so bad after all. If the Canes do lose Tuesday night, (which is not a given, regardless what Pens fans will tell you), ending up as the fourth best team in the NHL is nothing to hang your head about.
I could spout off statistics about how Cam Ward has never lost an NHL playoff series. I could tell you that the Canes are undefeated in previous elimination games this postseason. I could tell you that the Carolina franchise has won more playoff games in this decade than any other franchise besides Detroit. All of these facts are meaningless, regarding this particular game. The only thing that matters is that the players need to come out on Tuesday night and play the best hockey game of their lives.
The odds will be against them. The league office will be against them. The rest of the NHL will be against them. If the Pens don't close out the series Tuesday, it throws the television schedule for the SCF's into a malady and nobody wants to wait over a week to watch the Stanley Cup Finals. (Conspiracy theorists will love the television scheduling angle).
But it's funny how quickly things can change in hockey. Remember last year, when the press roasted "Geno" Malkin for being a no show in the finals against Detroit? "Loyal" fans were quick to throw him under the bus as well. Now, his parents are even celebrities as Versus shows the beaming couple gushing during every stoppage in play.
A couple of weeks ago in New Jersey, the Canes were as much as left for dead because they were losing with just a minute and change left in game 7 against the "greatest goalie in NHL history". The announcers on Versus were singing the praises of how great a team the Devils were and wondering how they would match up against Boston. But then a hockey miracle happened. Do the Hurricanes have any more miracles in them?