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The Carolina Hurricanes Are In The Playoffs, Now The Expectations Are High

from Luke DeCock of the News & Observer,

Because this team expected no less than this, and because it has indeed elevated its game from last season and the season before, this can’t be enough. Amid the disruption of last season and the stifling uncomfortability of the playoff bubble, there were times when it seemed like the Hurricanes were merely happy to be there, especially as the Boston series went sideways.

There hasn’t been any of that this season, and there shouldn’t be any of that in the playoffs, and there can’t be any of it now. The stakes are just as high over the final eight games as they were over the first 48. In this division, with three heavyweights slugging it out at the top, finishing first means more than hanging a banner.

With the obvious and perennial caveat that every playoff series is its own miniature universe, the odds will lean heavily toward the team among the Carolina-Tampa-Florida trio that doesn’t have to play one of the other two in the first round. That 2-3 semifinal series in the Central Division has the potential to be an absolute slog, every bit as difficult as the division final will be. No disrespect to Dallas or Nashville, but the gap between the top three and the rest of the division is tangible and significant. There’s a reward for finishing strong, and the Hurricanes control their own destiny to claim it.

Closing out the season the right way and claiming the division title would be a statement of intent from a team that has shown its Stanley Cup window is as open as anyone’s. There are 12 players on this team who participated in the first-round win over the Washington Capitals in 2019. That core is as experienced in the postseason as it is going to get. With the addition of Vincent Trocheck, Brady Skjei, Martin Necas, Jesper Fast and Alex Nedeljkovic to that group, their time has come and it has come now.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Carolina Hurricanes, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com