After winning their second game in a row on the road, a 4-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 19, the Hurricanes have 36 games remaining while sitting in last place in the Metropolitan Division with a 16-25-5 record and 37 points.
A 6-2-1 record in January, their best month of play to date aside, the outlook for this team depends on whether you think the water bottle is half full or half empty.
The outrageous thought that this team can even come close to making the playoffs is permissible for those positive thinkers.
Why can’t a record-setting winning streak develop and put this team in a place where it thought it could be when it took to the ice at training camp in September?
The possibility, at least mathematically, exists and is possible.
However, realistically, no one is talking about the postseason involving Carolina.
Why would they?
The hole they’ve dug sitting 20 points behind the final wild card spot as they prepare to face the Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay Lighting on Monday, seems insurmountable – they’re just too far behind.
With no significant personnel moves made to improve upon this season, it looks that those who have been chained to the oars while learning to work as a unit under Bill Peters will remain to continue earning the incremental positive results they have.
Small steps and not enough of them have kept Carolina from keeping up with other teams that have taken long strides to outdistance themselves during the first half of the season.
For the optimists, why can’t the Hurricanes’ expected scorers come out of their slumber and start to light up opposing goaltenders while pulling in the same direction as everyone else?
What a joy and sight that would be.
It’s really all just a matter of perspective.
Is this team running on the treadmill, or can it jump off and start gaining real traction on the road to success – wherever that lies?
Listening to what head coach Bill Peters said after practice on Monday, it seems that much work remains.
“We gotta’ continue to get better,” he said.
“There’s a couple of areas that we have to maintain. Obviously, we’re very happy with our penalty kill – we’ve gotta’ get our power play goin’ a little better and improve in that area. We need to continue to score. I think we’ve scored a little bit more here recently, but when you look at it, we’re the second-lowest scoring team in the National Hockey League. So, we wanna’ make sure we have that under control and get our D gapped up and active. A lot of things we can continue to do to lay a foundation moving forward.”
Laying a foundation is more about focusing on showing up in every game and gaining wins when possible, but not taking the NHL by storm.
That’s the realist’s view.
On the other hand, anything is possible, and for those who believe in miracles, showing up to the team’s remaining home games and wishing and willing victories to take place is admirable and appreciated.
One thing is definite in all of this – the season will continue until April 11th.
Thus, it will be a period of time to either dread or enjoy following the remainder of Hurricanes’ season while it lasts.
Just a matter of how you want to look at it all.