With March Madness betting ready to get started and the NHL trade deadline come and gone, the betting services are settling in for the stretch run to the NHL playoffs. Now is the time when teams either make their move up in the standings, or find themselves getting left behind. The Eastern Conference standings are so close that almost every team in the conference is still fighting for a playoff spot. Only the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators can be said to be completely out of the picture. The Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes are hanging on, but they will need to step up their games to make the post-season.
This is a game that features two teams with very different motivations. The Florida Panthers need a winning streak now to avoid being one of those teams left behind in the standings. The Carolina Hurricanes are holding on to that eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but they are not doing a very good job of securing their playoff destiny.
The Hurricanes are in deep trouble as the last 20 games of the season get ready to start. Carolina just lost a game to the Montreal Canadiens and now find the gap between themselves and the Buffalo Sabres to be only two points. In the last 10 games, the Hurricanes are 3-4-3 and have been steadily falling further behind the seventh place New York Rangers. The Hurricanes just cannot hold on to a lead late in the game. They are scoring three and four goals per game on a consistent basis. But they are allowing teams to score in the third period as games continue to slip away. The Hurricanes are getting decent goaltending from Cam Ward. They just need to learn how to shut down the other team in the third period.
If the Florida Panthers cannot find a way to start stringing wins together, then they will be on the outside looking in at the playoffs before the end of the week. The Panthers were holding down ninth in the conference and threatening for eighth not that long ago. But Florida’s defense and goaltending have let them down lately, and now the Panthers find themselves with 59 points and eight points out of the final playoff spot. In the last 10 games, the Panthers are 3-6-1 and showing no signs of being able to string together consecutive wins. Florida needs to remember that they are only eight points out of a playoff spot, but they are also only eight points out of the Eastern Conference basement.
The Bottom Line
The Hurricanes just need to play better in the third period in order to start putting together some much-needed wins. The Panthers’ problems are much deeper than just a lack of effort, and Florida does not make some moves at the trade deadline to shore up its defense then there will be no playoffs in South Beach this season.
BSNblog Pick: Carolina Hurricanes