Simply, the Hurricanes are way away from a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. There is a logjam of great teams between Carolina and the New York Rangers for the final spot. Carolina could go on a serious tear and close the nine-point gap while the rest of the teams in contention take a coffee break, but this is unlikely to happen.
What is more likely to happen is that Carolina may come close but most likely miss the playoffs. With any luck, this will be the impetus for the firing of head coach Kirk Muller and hopefully GM and walking disaster Jim Rutherford.
How does this relate to the Chicago game? Simple. If Muller is to save his job, the smart move is to take on Chicago as if they were the one thing standing between the Hurricanes and the NHL playoffs. Put out the big time line with Alexander Semin and Jeff Skinner, allow Eric and Jordan Staal to play together and most of all start Anton Khudobin. Play Chicago like it’s the big time and get big time results.
It’s also an attainable goal.
Chicago is having some issues. Big time forward Patrick Kane is out due to injury, their stats are falling off and after the feat of beating the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier in the week, the planets are somewhat aligned.
Chicago doesn’t give up a ton of shots per game, and Carolina has begun taking a lot of them. In fact, Carolina now sits seventh in the league on average shots-for per game. There’s not a goaltender alive who is not at least somewhat susceptible to the law of averages. Throw enough shots on any goaltender and something’s going to squirt through.
A win against Chicago can set the Hurricanes up to maybe not make the playoffs, but make a respectable run at it. Giving the playoffs a real try — unlike what’s been going on — will show the fans a true commitment, which has not been happening.
Kicking Chicago while they’re down, for lack of a better term, just might save the Hurricanes.