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.
Good question! I feel like the Hurricanes making the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the 2017-18 season is certainly an attainable endpoint, and here's how the team can do it.
1. Better Goaltending
This one is no secret or no surprise. In 2014-15, the Hurricanes ranked 29th in 5-on-5 save percentage at .909. In 2015-16, the Hurricanes ranked 28th at .915. Last season, the Hurricanes ranked 29th at .913.
Not even a month into the offseason, the Hurricanes upgraded their goaltending in trading for and signing goaltender Scott Darling. Darling broke into the league in 2014. Since then, his .923 career save percentage is bested only by Carey Price (.929) among goaltenders who have played at least 75 games in that stretch. Additionally, Darling's .929 career even-strength save percentage ranks seventh in the league in the same time frame.
Darling, ready to take the next step in his career, figures to be the Canes' starter. If he can help to elevate the team's goaltending stats, the Hurricanes will be well on their way to a return to the playoffs.
2. Improve Offense
At the other end of the ice, the Hurricanes need to see more consistent production out of their offense. The Canes ranked 27th overall in goals for per game in 2014-15 and 2015-16, improving to 20th overall in 2016-17 with a 2.59 goals per game mark. That's a step in the right direction, and it needs to continue to advance heading into 2017-18. Finding that extra offensive muscle could also help turn some of the Canes' 16 overtime losses from 2015-16 and 15 overtime losses from 2016-17, both league-leading marks, into two points.
3. Avoid Long Negative Streaks
The Hurricanes assembled a franchise-best 13-game point streak down the stretch of the 2016-17 season, which helped keep the team's playoff hopes alive, slim as they may have been.
But, that couldn't make up for how streaky the team was in the opposite direction. The Canes won just three of their first 13 games (though four of those were also overtime losses). The Canes dropped five in a row - all in regulation - leading into the All-Star break. The Canes went winless in five games around the bye week and posted a 1-6-3 record from early February to early March.
Even a 13-game point streak wasn't enough to right those three wrongs. Losing and/or winless streaks like that have to be avoided in 2017-18 if the Hurricanes want to return to the postseason.
Disclaimer: I cannot and do not condone any of this, but in the spirit of answering the question …
There's the octopus in Detroit and the catfish in Nashville. The animal tie-in for the Hurricanes is already represented in the team's mascot, but I can't imagine Stormy would enjoy being hoisted and chucked over the glass. That leaves the pig head.
Note, though, that the Canes' newest goaltender is not a fan.
Video: Eastern vs. Western Barbecue Challenge
Also, it's gross. Just don't do it.
I think I have three answers for this, and coincidentally they are all located in Canada. You named one: Reuben's in Montreal. Readers, if you're ever in Montreal, visit this place for lunch and order The Original 76. It's a smoked meat sandwich that is simple, done right and delicious.
A related lunch spot I've been craving: The Corned Beef House in Toronto. Literally in a house, or at least something that quite resembles it, this place serves up some tasty sandwiches, including Montreal smoked meat if you're missing Reuben's.
Last but certainly not least - and, you'll notice a theme here - is Meat & Bread in Vancouver. This joint was featured on "Diners, Drive Ins and Dives" a few years back, and I've made it a point to visit ever since. In fact, I went two days in a row when the team was in Vancouver last season. Like the other two joints above, these sandwiches are simple but scrumptious. The porchetta is the specialty, but you can't go wrong with any of their creations.
"Dunkirk," a World War II film from Christopher Nolan, might be at the top of my summer movie list.
But really, we're all just killing time until "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" comes out in December. And then the Han Solo anthology flick hits screens just five months later. I've died and gone to a galaxy far, far away. I. Can't. Wait.
It's not even June yet.
*sad violin music fades in*
*stares longingly at the calendar*
Join me next week for more questions and more answers!
If you have a question you'd like answered or you enjoy the Hurricanes covfefe provided on this site, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes or drop an email here.