The Carolina Hurricanes have 14 games left on their schedule and presently find themselves 8 points behind eighth place Boston, who currently holds the coveted final playoff spot in the East.
Even though the Canes have been one of the hottest teams in the league since the first of the year, they put themselves into such a deep hole during the first part of the season that it was almost impossible to dig their way out of it.
To their credit, the team never gave up though because mathematically, they still had a chance. But the time is drawing near when even a remote chance could soon be gone.
A loss to Boston on Tuesday night would just about seal their fate.
* - Buffalo Sabres
Carolina dropped to 14th place again in the East as the New York Islanders passed them during the weekend. But the Canes could still make some other teams sweat a bit with a few more key wins.
They play Boston twice, Montreal twice, Atlanta twice, and Tampa Bay twice in the coming three weeks. Each of these teams are vulnerable in their own way and could still be caught.
Boston is weaker without Marc Savard. Montreal has played 70 games and is giving up games in hand to everyone in the East. Atlanta looks very beatable right now and Tampa Bay has questionable goaltending.
The good news is that if the Canes could sweep those teams and pick up a few other wins against the tougher teams they also need to play, they could still make things very interesting. The bad news is, if they lose once or twice to any of those teams, the fat lady will be warming up for her season-ending performance.
And it will be a very long offseason for Caniacs.
Regardless, the team has played some very entertaining hockey in the last month or so, when it would have been very easy for them to throw in the towel, like Edmonton did. At least they have given fans a reason for hope in the future.
But it's really crunch time now. Will the Canes crumble, or continue to put on a valiant effort to make things interesting down the stretch? The game Tuesday night against the big, bad, Bruins will tell a lot.
Hurricanes Remaining Schedule
|Boston||Tue 03/16||7:00 PM EDT|
|Washington||Thu 03/18||7:00 PM EDT|
|@ Pittsburgh||Sat 03/20||1:00 PM EDT|
|Buffalo||Sun 03/21||5:00 PM EDT|
|@ Tampa Bay||Tue 03/23||7:30 PM EDT|
|Washington||Thu 03/25||7:00 PM EDT|
|Atlanta||Sat 03/27||7:00 PM EDT|
|@ Atlanta||Mon 03/29||7:00 PM EDT|
|@ Montreal||Wed 03/31||7:00 PM EDT|
|@ Ottawa||Thu 04/01||7:30 PM EDT|
|New Jersey||Sat 04/03||7:00 PM EDT|
|@ Tampa Bay||Tue 04/06||7:30 PM EDT|
|Montreal||Thu 04/08||7:00 PM EDT|
|@ Boston||Sat 04/10||1:00 PM EDT|