Carolina Hurricanes Could Be Playoff Bound, But Are They Legitimate Contenders?

By Randy Holt
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Hurricanes may very well be headed to the postseason this spring. They’re a very improved squad this season. But while they may be among the eight squads in the Eastern Conference to make it into the playoffs, are they a legitimate contender to take home a Stanley Cup?

If it weren’t for the fact that the division leaders automatically get the top three seeds in each conference, the Hurricanes could very well be fighting for their playoff lives. They currently sit in eighth, but are just a point out of third, with 31 points on the year. One point gives them the tiebreaker and they can take the division lead back.

This is a team with a very good offense. They currently rank sixth in the league in goals per game, but are in the bottom half of the league in goals against. Neither of their special teams are very good, with the power play ranking in the worst few units in the league, while the penalty kill is in the bottom 10 as well.

You also have to take into consideration that Cam Ward is out for the majority of the remainder of the regular season. If he returns in time for the playoffs, he could be rusty. If not, the Canes will be forced to roll with a duo of Justin Peters and Dan Ellis between the pipes.

On paper, this is a pretty good squad. But the numbers indicate that this is a team that should probably be fighting for a playoff spot. If it weren’t for the fact that their division was so weak, they very well could be. If the Tampa Bay Lightning or Washington Capitals ever find their game, this team could be in serious trouble.

This Carolina club knows how to put the puck in the back of the net. They have some top notch offensive players, and the numbers reflect that. But their situation on defense, special teams, and between the pipes could hold them back. Lucky for them, their division has played pretty terrible hockey for the majority of the year, save the Winnipeg Jets, which should help them at least creep into the postseason.

After that, you never know what could happen. But Cane fans probably shouldn’t be expecting too much.

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