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What to expect from the Hurricanes in the final stretch of the season

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RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) — The Carolina Hurricanes have already secured their ticket to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They did that last week with a 5-3 win over Buffalo.

So what can fans expect from the Canes in the final nine games of the season? The President’s Trophy for Best Regular Season Team is almost out of reach. Colorado (110 points) and Florida (108 points) have a healthy lead over the ‘Canes and are each down a game.

What’s within reach is a Metropolitan Division title. The Hurricanes have a 2-point lead over the New York Rangers, who they will visit twice in the final weeks of the season. Those April 12 and April 26 games will have a significant impact on which team tops the division.

If the playoffs started today, Carolina would play Boston in the first round. However, if the Rangers overtook them in the standings, all else being equal, they would draw Pittsburgh.

Does it make a difference for Rod Brind’Amour and his team? He’d probably downplay it, but it’s worth noting that the ‘Canes are 3-0 against the Bruins this season, beating them by a combined 16-1 score. They are 2-1 against the penguins. The two victories were each achieved by a goal, including one in extra time.

Carolina definitely seems a better match for Boston. Many fans will also want some measure of revenge after being eliminated by the Bruins in 2019 and 2020. Still, there will be tough teams who need to beat the Hurricanes if they want to make a deep run.

The other tent game on the remaining list is April 16 in Colorado. Not only does it offer an opportunity to tour and compete with one of the best in the NHL, but it could also serve as a preview of the Stanley Cup Finals. Each is considered to be one of the best teams in their respective conference.

Fighting for the division championship was to be Carolina’s focus all the way. Having that goal of making sense of the finals in a few weeks can only be beneficial in getting the Canes into playoff shape.

Matches against humble clubs like Detroit, Arizona and New Jersey also offer opportunities to play around with some strategies ahead of the postseason. For example, can Max Domi take the center role in the second powerplay session? Or does Jordan Staal get another look there after his hat-trick against Anaheim on Sunday?

Also Pierre LeBrun from The Athletic reported that Jesperi Kotkaniemi should only be out injured for a week or two. Will he make it back before the playoffs? If so, will he slip back into his central role in the fourth line?

More than any tinkering, the Hurricanes should focus on building momentum. It’s been a month since they’ve strung together more than two wins in a row. Getting steamed up can be crucial at this time of year.

https://www.cbs17.com/sports/carolina-hurricanes/what-to-expect-from-the-hurricanes-during-the-final-stretch-of-the-season/ What to expect from the Hurricanes in the final stretch of the season

DUSTIN JONES

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