With New Year’s finally upon us, here are a few things that the Carolina Hurricanes should ask for this holiday season.
Last New Year’s, the Carolina Hurricanes were a bleak franchise that hadn’t made the playoffs in a decade. All we wanted was for the Hurricanes to get their act to get and secure a playoff berth, which looked increasingly bleak, as the Canes were one of the worst teams at hockey when the holiday rolled around.
Now, a year later, how the times have changed. A playoff berth won’t be enough to satiate fans anymore, not with a budding superstar in Andrei Svechnikov, a legend at coach in Rod Brind’Amour, and an owner willing to make this team a consistent winner.
So with the team looking to follow up on an Eastern Conference Finals appearance, what should Carolina’s New Year’s Resolution be?
2020 New Year’s Resolution: Be More Disciplined
The Hurricanes are a Top-10 team in goals, goals allowed, shots allowed, power-play percentage, penalty kill, and have an over 80 percent chance of making the playoffs this season. The aforementioned Svechnikov, along with Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho are leading the team towards another Stanley Cup run. There are not many things to be nitpicky about with a team that is right in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference.
You could make an argument about better goaltending being the answer here, as Carolina ranks 15th in save percentage but there likely isn’t an immediate answer to that problem besides Petr Mrazek playing as a No. 1 goaltender.
However, if the Canes are serious about making another Stanley Cup run, their New Year’s Resolution has to be staying out of the penalty box.
Carolina is third in the National Hockey in most minor penalties taken, with a whopping 146 total minor penalties. The Hurricanes are first in the league in holding and high-sticking penalties, second in the league in tripping penalties and fifth in the league in interference.
The only saving grace of the team has been the league’s 8th-best penalty kill, but with teams like Boston and Toronto looming as potential playoff match-ups, the Canes can’t live in this perilous state for an extended playoff series and hope to win.
This fact was evident in last night’s loss to the Rangers, where the Hurricanes spotted the Rangers two power-play goals that allowed New York to take over the game.
The top-flight offense is reason to be excited heading into the new year but the Hurricanes need to be more disciplined to make the leap into the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference.