After a historic start, what lies ahead for the Hurricanes in November?
The Carolina Hurricanes are coming off of one of their best starts in franchise history with an 8-3-1 record in the month of October. This ties with the 2005-06 season, you know, the one in which they won the Stanley Cup, for the best start ever.
October saw a lot of great hockey for the Hurricanes who started the season with a five-game winning streak, backed by tremendous play from Dougie Hamilton (six goals, 13 points) Andrei Svechnikov (five goals, 12 points) and Petr Mrazek (6-1-1, 0.917 save %).
What does this month have in store for the Canes?
Starting off the month, the Hurricanes will play the five worst teams in the Eastern Conference in their first six games. Starting off with a back-to-back against the Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils, both at home, Carolina will then play the Philadelphia Flyers on the road, come home for one game against the New York Rangers, and then will play the Ottawa Senators in a home-and-home series starting in Ottawa.
Not only that, but the Hurricanes will only play two teams that are currently in a playoff position (Buffalo and Nashville) and only two teams that were in the playoffs last season (Nashville and Tampa Bay).
According to Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic, the Canes mathematically have the easiest schedule for the month of November based on only their average opponent expected win percentage.
This is an amazing opportunity for the Carolina Hurricanes to build on its already historic start and push for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division. Currently, the Hurricanes sit at second in the Metro, four points behind the Washington Capitals, but with two games in hand. Carolina is ranked fourth among Eastern Conference teams and eighth overall in the NHL.
The Canes will play seven games at home in November (They went 5-1-0 at home in October) and eight on the road (3-2-1 in October). The team will also play three back-to-backs, the same amount they played in October in which they went 4-2-0.
Jordan Martinook underwent successful core muscle surgery on October 11th and was listed to miss six to eight weeks. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour said that Martinook had begun skating this week on his own which is a good sign moving forward. While the Hurricanes are traditionally cautious with injuries, Martinook may feel good enough to return in late November and with him, he will bring a huge boost in energy and physicality for the team.
November 2: New Jersey Devils – The Hurricanes will play the first two games of the month at home in a back-to-back. The Canes have won each of the first games in their first three back-to-backs, but have played rather poorly in the last two, losses against the San Jose Sharks and Columbus Blue Jackets. With Martinook still out, the Canes have seemed to lack that constant energy he brought to the table.
Luckily for the Canes, the game is against one of the currently worst teams in the NHL, the New Jersey Devils who sit 30 out of 31. However, the NHL is always the league to, ironically, throw the wildest curveballs at teams. The Devils can score goals but are just as prone to give them away. The Canes will need to outpace them to win.
November 14: @ Buffalo Sabres – The Hurricanes will take on its first real opponent at the midway point of the month. The Sabres currently sit ranked third in the NHL and second in the Atlantic Division with 20 points and a 9-2-2 record. Buffalo has a solid roster that has been scoring in bunches. Former 2015 second overall pick, Jack Eichel, leads the Sabres with seven goals and 17 points, while former Hurricanes Jeff Skinner also has seven goals.
One of the Hurricanes banes this season has been the number of penalties they have been committing, although recently they have been better. However, Buffalo is one team they want to make extra sure they keep themselves and their sticks in check. The Sabres are ranked second in the NHL in power-play percentage with a 29.8 percent success rate and Victor Olofsson, who was named Rookie of the Month for October, has six power-play goals in 13 games.
November 27: @ New York Rangers – The Madison Square Garden curse was broken last season, with a 3-0 shutout victory on February 8, 2019, but could it come back? Carolina has for some reason always struggled playing in MSG against the Rangers, not having had won there prior to last season since 2010. However, the Rangers have really struggled since last season and all of their new additions including Artemi Panarin, Kaapo Kakko and Jacob Trouba, just haven’t meshed.
It could just be a matter of time before New York comes together and what better time for them could it be then for a historic curse to rear it’s ugly head again?
November 30: @ Tampa Bay Lightning – The second game of a back-to-back in Tampa Bay. This should automatically spell a loss, if not for the fact that the Hurricanes are a really good team and currently the Lightning aren’t even in a playoff spot. Now all of that can turn around by the end of November and I expect it to by at least a good bit.
There is too much talent on that Tampa squad for them to be where they are at and I fully expect them to give the Canes a hard-fought game at least since they ended up being embarrassed the last time they met.
I think the Hurricanes will win a good percentage of their games this month. The only worry being that 15 games in 30 days is an average of a game every other day. While the Hurricanes are possibly one of the best-conditioned teams in the NHL thanks to Rod “The Bod” Brind’Amour’s workout and training ethics, it is still a lot of hockey in a short time frame.
I predict the Hurricanes will go 10-4-1 in the month of November giving themselves a nice boost of 21 points in the standings for a total of 38 points overall, and hey who knows, maybe top in the Metropolitan if not at least close to it.