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NHL Carolina Hurricanes

5 Things Carolina Hurricanes Can Look Forward To In December

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5 Things Carolina Hurricanes Can Look Forward To In December

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Rick Osentoski - USA Today Sports

December in North Carolina can be a mixed bag. On one hand, it's the weird lull between college football and college basketball. Yet on the other hand, it's the corridor of the calendar where UNC, Duke and NC State fans put the weapons away and can all pull for the Carolina Hurricanes.

While it's not likely a Winter Classic will make its way to Raleigh any time soon, December is hockey time in Carolina. With the recent inspired play of the Hurricanes, PNC Arena will be a great place to get in out of that one inch of snow that always seems to shut the state down twice a year.

With the rough times of October well behind them, November ending on a pretty high note, and the roster starting to look more like the actual Hurricanes -- it's looking like December will bring more than its fair share of gifts to the Boys In Red.

Most people will admit to enjoying the whole month of December, yet as far as the Hurricanes are concerned, there's a few highlights to be had. Should the building momentum hold, it's entirely conceivable for Carolina to start the new year close to the top of the division. In fact, if they continue at the rate they are, it is even mathematically possible to be leading the Metropolitan Division come time for Sochi.

What are the high points of December that will keep the ball rolling to the Olympic break? These are the five biggest ones.

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5: The Whole Second Week

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James Guillory - USA Today Sports

This road trip out west won't bring with it any swimming pools or movie stars.

The second week of December can actually be a lot of fun, with the Hurricanes visiting the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Phoenix Coyotes. Also known as the bottom of the Pacific Division.

Nothing is a guarantee, however, the Hurricanes have been playing pretty well on the road, and actually have a more effective power play on the road. Edmonton and Calgary are almost gimmies, but it's still never okay to bring the guard down. However, this cushy road trip will bring a much needed morale boost.

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4: Washington & Tampa Bay Back To Back

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Geoff Burke - USA Today Sports

After the western road trip, Carolina has a whopping five days off.

This is great time to regroup, rest, take care of the inevitable injuries -- they're still the Hurricanes -- and prepare for the toughest weekend of the month. Longtime rivals, the Washington Capitals, come to Raleigh on the 20th, followed the next night by a quick jaunt down to face the Tampa Bay Lightning.

This is major because should all go well on the trip out west, having a bundle of points in hand before taking on two Eastern Conference teams can be a jackpot for Carolina's place in the standings.

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3: A Full Roster (Hopefully)

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Geoff Burke - USA Today Sports

They've come close, but Carolina still has of yet to ice their entire starting roster.

Should all go well, goaltender Anton Khudobin, forward Alexander Semin and defenseman Andrej Sekera will all be suited up and healthy again. This gives the Hurricanes the first full strength outing since the season began. The caveat being nobody else can get hurt.

Sekera already has a spot waiting, but with Semin's place being filled pretty well and the whole game of goaltender roulette going on, there's no telling where he and Khudobin will end up.

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2: Not Having To Play Boston

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James Guillory - USA Today Sports

The two games agains the Boston Bruins in November were just brutal for Carolina.

Obnoxious away fans invading Raleigh at the home loss, coupled with the road loss in overtime off of a horrendous no-call on a hook to Jordan Staal, causing a breakout opportunity -- Carolina has had just about enough of the Bruins for a while.

With no sign of Boston on the schedule until well after Sochi, the Hurricanes can focus on more pressing matters.

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1: The New Years Eve Game

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Jean-Yves Ahern - USA Today Sports

If you're an NHL fan and have never made the trip to Raleigh to catch the New Years Eve game -- put this one on your calendar.

Because of the quirks of the schedule, this is an every-other-year occurrence and the team and fans do this one up big. Also, with the Montreal Canadiens being invited to the party, Carolina faces a solid challenge but one they can most likely handle.

Carolina-Montreal contests have never failed to entertain, and to host them on New Years Eve will be a night for everyone to remember.