A Carolina Cinderella story depends on win Friday

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Do the Carolina Hurricanes still have a shot at making the playoffs? Mathematically, of course they do, but realistically, their current four-game winning streak seems to be too little, too late. Even if you ignore the Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets – who currently rank ninth and 10th respectively in the Eastern Conference – and make this all about Carolina and the eighth place Washington Capitals, it’s still hard to put any faith in the Hurricanes.

Carolina is six points behind Washington with just eight games left. On top of that, Washington has five more regulation plus overtime wins, so even if they finish the season with the same number of points, the tiebreaker would almost certainly go to the Capitals. So if Carolina wins all eight of their remaining games – extending their winning streak to 12 games total – and Washington gets 10 points in their final eight contests, then Carolina would still probably fail to make the playoffs.

“Anything can happen,” Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward said. “As long as we keep taking care of our business, who knows what can happen.”

Perhaps, but in this case, taking care of business means being basically perfect for the remainder of the season. That’s why Friday’s game against Columbus is critical for Carolina. Regardless of how well they’ve played lately, if Carolina can’t beat the worst team in the NHL on Friday, then any chance of a Cinderella story will be all-but lost.