Hello and welcome to a weekly feature on CarolinaHurricanes.com in which I take your Twitter questions about the Carolina Hurricanes or other assorted topics and answer them in mailbag form. Hopefully, the final product is insightful to some degree, and maybe we have some fun along the way.
Let’s get to it.
Thanksgiving (or, as Canadians call it, “American Thanksgiving”) is a telling mile-marker in the season. You’ve heard Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters, among others, mention it, like he did after practice on Saturday.
“We’ve got ground to make up, right? A big, pivotal time in the season is American Thanksgiving. We’ve got 11 games before that coming up, so I’d like to know where we are then,” Peters said. “I’d like to be in that top eight by American Thanksgiving.”
And why is that? Statistics.
According to a report from STATS last year, since the 2005-06 season, NHL teams in playoff position at Thanksgiving have ultimately qualified for postseason play 77.3 percent of the time.
That’s a pretty telling figure, and in both of the seasons that the Hurricanes have made the playoffs in that stretch, they’ve been in a playoff position at Thanksgiving.
In the 2005-06 season, the Hurricanes were 14-6-1 (29 points). They led the Tampa Bay Lightning by two points in the Southeast Division and were locked firmly into a playoff position. The team would eventually post a 52-22-8 record (112 points), finishing first in the division and second in the Eastern Conference – and we all know what happened from there. At Thanksgiving in the 2008-09 season, the Hurricanes ranked eighth in the Eastern Conference with 24 points (11-10-2). Their point total eventually climbed to 97 (45-30-7), good for a sixth-place playoff berth in their run to the Eastern Conference Final.
Currently, the Hurricanes sit just three points out of a playoff spot and play 10 games, including 8 at home, between now and Thanksgiving.
Early returns say yes.
In October 2015, 33 games have required extra hockey, and only 10 have progressed to the shootout (30.3 percent). Last season, 41 October games went beyond regulation, and 21 were settled in a shootout (51.2 percent).
The Hurricanes have been involved in two of those 33 games, both of which were decided in 3-on-3 play. It was Victor Rask’s heady play and fancy footwork that won the first game 1-0 in Colorado, and it was Ron Hainsey motoring up the ice on an odd-man rush that won the second game 3-2 in Brooklyn.
Some (read: those who are against fun) may lament the 3-on-3 experience, but it has certainly done its part early in the season to reduce the amount of shootouts required to decide hockey games.
And the excitement level? Unrivaled. I love it, and Canes head coach Bill Peters does, too.
“I think it’s outstanding. The players are excited about it, I know coaches talk about it and watch video on it and the fans enjoy it,” he said after practice on Wednesday. “It’s been a great adjustment and rule change by the league, and I think it’s proven to be a positive.”
From my vantage point in keeping tabs from down the road, the renovation of Bojangles’ Coliseum has been an exciting process, and it culminates this week with the team’s return to Charlotte (finally) and a November home opener. The revamped barn seems like a perfect fit for the team, and I completely dig the old-school nature of it. If you haven’t already, check out some of the behind-the-scenes photos from the team’s first practice at Bojangles on the Checkers’ Twitter feed.
The Canes host the Senators on Saturday, which is also Hockey Fights Cancer Night, but I’ll certainly be checking in (see what I did there?) on what should be a great night of hockey in Charlotte.
So great. Monday night’s win likely shaved a few years off my life, and it was an incredibly ugly way to win, but they all count just the same. It’s not always the prettiest or the flashiest, but this team knows how to win. And that’s fun.
Join me next week for more questions and more answers!
If you have a question you’d like answered or you’d like my thoughts on my new Nexus 6P, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes or drop an email here.
is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.Email