Last year, the Carolina Hurricanes made an improbable run to the Eastern Conference Finals, knocking off the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Washington Capitals, and sweeping the New York Islanders in the process. This season, however, the Hurricanes aren’t surprising anyone.
Sebastian Aho has once again been one of the top forwards in the Metropolitan Division, while Teuvo Teravainen proved last year’s increase in production wasn’t a fluke. Add on to that Dougie Hamilton’s stellar year, Martin Necas’ great rookie season and Andrei Svechnikov's rise to stardom, among other factors, and the Hurricanes are poised to make another deep playoff run.
The team’s additions at the deadline also signalled that they’re looking to compete in the playoffs right away, the decision to acquire Sami Vatanen, who will more than likely be a rental. The team is also better with the additions of Brady Skjei and Vincent Trocheck, who will fill holes in the lineup.
But with these improvements comes higher expectations. Carolina finished ninth in the league (by points percentage) this season and nobody is going to take them lightly. Last season, the Hurricanes could’ve been knocked out by the Capitals and the year still would have been looked at as a success for the team. This season, however, there’s pressure for the Hurricanes to contend and losing in the qualifying round or even the first round of the playoffs would be a disappointment.
Considering the additions the Hurricanes made at the deadline, the team clearly picked a direction and are looking to compete in the playoffs. They’ve got the skill and the depth to do it and while two years ago you may not have expected Carolina to be in this good of a position right now, the reality is the Hurricanes are a strong team and should have high expectations heading into the postseason.
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Here’s today’s poll question (results and discussion will be posted in a future article):
The Hurricanes are a strong enough team to reach the: