When the new Metropolitan Division standings come out Tuesday morning, the Carolina Hurricanes will be sitting in third place. This is a big deal — a very big deal.
After a monster third period comeback Monday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, a few things have become strikingly clear. First and foremost, is that things have begun to click with more consistency, as this was in question for some time. Things are not perfect, however. It took all the way to the third period before Carolina decided to put some points on the board. Columbus had jumped out early with two bang-bang goals in the first — and the Hurricanes simply took that long to get their act together. What’s important is that they eventually did, when there was a time when they wouldn’t have.
Secondly, the fact that the game’s turnaround came off of two goals — a minute apart — off of captain Eric Staal. While his kid brother Jordan ended up putting the game-winner away soon after, it was the two go-aheads off of the elder brother that were the key. While other players like Alexander Semin, Andrej Sekera and Nathan Gerbe seem to be the flavor of the month, having Staal put his captain’s hand down and make things happen when they need to is what captains do.
Put all of this together and the picture comes clear. Having brought down Columbus from behind heavy odds, should Carolina have success Tuesday night against the Montreal Canadiens to close out their back-to-back — they’ll be sitting in a very pretty position.
Montreal is the last road game before the break for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Coming out of the Olympic break in playoff contention makes the month of March that much easier for the Hurricanes.
Nights like the Hurricanes had Monday night — complete with the Staal Brothers Show — is the only thing that will keep them in contention instead of treading water. Head coach Kirk Muller has little choice but to write the depth chart around the Staal brothers. With the two of them anchoring the top lines, the team is dialed in from here to Sochi.
The win over Columbus proves it.