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Tweetmail: Can the Canes Make a Deep Playoff Run?

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

Hello and welcome to Tweetmail presented by Segra. This is a regular feature on in which I answer your Twitter questions, which are mostly about the Carolina Hurricanes, but sometimes also about travel or television or life. It's a mailbag of tweets. It's Tweetmail. Maybe you learn a little something, and maybe we have some fun, too.

Let's get to it.

Do you think there's a legitimate chance of us making the Stanley Cup with the Lightning at full health? - @NickColella

Yes. I've thought from day one that this team has a chance to make a run at the Stanley Cup, and now past the halfway point of the season, I still don't see a reason why it couldn't happen.

Through 32 games, the Hurricanes have established themselves as one of the top teams in both the Central Division and the National Hockey League.

Let's flash back to the storied 2005-06 campaign, which of course ended in the franchise's first Stanley Cup championship. Through 32 games, the Canes were 21-9-2 with 44 points. This season, they're 22-7-3 with 47 points. The Canes own a plus-27 goal differential, which ranks fourth in the league. They're 10-1-3 at home, one of just two teams to have lost only once in regulation at home this season (NYI is 13-1-2).

The Lightning are going to be tough to overtake in the standings, I think, but the Canes are well within striking distance at three points back with a game in hand and a head-to-head match-up on the docket for Saturday. The Canes are 2-3-0 against the Bolts this season, their two wins both being shutouts (one in overtime). These last three games of the season series could play a critical role in which team finishes where, especially with how tight the race is likely going to be.

In any case, the Lightning and Canes, in some order, are likely to finish first and second in the division, meaning they could potentially meet in the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. To me, that's the biggest hurdle the Canes are going to face in the playoffs. I like the Canes chances against Florida or Columbus or Chicago or Dallas or Nashville in the first round. If they can then get past the Lightning (or maybe Tampa Bay loses in the first round), then it's down to the final four teams in the league.

Whoever comes out of the North Division is going to have their hands full. Could the Canes have to face Boston for the third straight year? Potentially. And then there's the West, where Vegas or Colorado could pose a challenge.

But if the Canes get past Tampa Bay and emerge from the Central Division, they've got a pretty good shot at capturing Lord Stanley's Cup.

Do you think when Trocheck and Teravainen return that Brind'Amour will keep Aho and Necas on the same line still with how well they've been playing together recently, or switch it up? - @dilfquackity

This is a good question, one I'm sure head coach Rod Brind'Amour and his coaching staff are either already kicking around or will have to kick around in the near future.

From what we've seen in the last few weeks, Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas are developing a bit of chemistry.

There's this.

Video: CAR@FLA: Necas buries Aho's feed for game-winner

And this.

Video: CAR@NSH: Aho finishes off the feed from Necas

And this!

Video: CAR@CBJ: Necas nets Aho feed for give-and-go goal

It makes sense that they're vibing right now. They're both incredibly skilled and talented players. They're both quick. They've both got a knack for playmaking and scoring. It's been a lot of fun to watch.

Even when Vincent Trocheck and/or Teuvo Teravainen are healthy, I would keep Aho and Necas together if they're still producing. Why not? Ride that pair while its hot, knowing that you can always fall back to Aho and Teravainen or Trocheck and Necas if the lineup needs a shake-up. And who knows - by the time Trochcek and/or Teravainen is set to return to the lineup, maybe the chemistry between Aho and Necas will have fizzled out …

… but probably not.

With the pending bump in attendance percentage, what happens to the sponsored seat covers or fan cutouts? - @kmcyphert

Gov. Roy Cooper this week loosened restrictions to allow up to 50% capacity at indoor sporting event venues. For a few weeks now, the Canes have been hosting fans at 15% of PNC Arena capacity (nearly 3,000). Though they won't be able to approach 50% capacity just yet due to other state and league protocols, they will be able to bring additional fans back into the building with the hope of continuing to add more as protocols are adjusted.

Seat tarps, for the most part, will be gone. Just a few will remain behind the benches. The fan cutouts will be removed, as well, as seating locations expand to the entire upper level.

There was a tweet about the Canes taking six of eight points in the series. My question is: Since there were three overtime games, wouldn't that be six of 11 possible points? - @FV_Yvette

Y'know, this is a very fair question and kind of underscores how weird it is to allocate three points to some games and two to all others.

Yvette, you're correct in that there were 11 total points divvied out in this four-game series - six to the Canes and five to Columbus. However, the maximum each team could have obtained is still eight, given that two points is the most a team can earn in any given game, even if it magically turns into a three-point game when it goes to overtime; whether a team wins in regulation, overtime or a shootout, that win is still worth two points, it's just that losses are worth more (a point) when they happen in overtime or a shootout.

The fix? Make all games worth three points. Three points for a win in regulation, zero points for a loss in regulation, two points for an overtime or shootout win and one point for an overtime or shootout loss - or some combination of that. In this case, there would have been 12 points up for grabs - no more, no less - and the Canes would have snagged seven of them and Columbus, five.

It makes too much sense!

Join me next Friday for more questions and more answers!

If you have a question you'd like answered or you're ready for a Carolina Disco Turkeys crossover night, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes, or you can drop me an email.

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