On Dec. 10, Carolina suffered a 4-3 loss in San Jose and dropped to 11-11-6 on the year.
Three days later, things took a turn.
Whether it’s fair or not to call it a turning point, something happened to Carolina in a wild 8-6 win over Vancouver on Dec. 13.The victory kickstarted this current stretch in which the ‘Canes are 8-4-1 over their last 13 and have moved to within three points of Philly for the final wild card spot in the East.
Oh, and the ‘Canes have two games in hand on the Flyers. No wonder they’re feeling great.
“We’re confident, each and every night, that we’re going to get two points,” head coach Bill Peters said following Tuesday’s 5-3 win over Columbus, per ESPN. “I believe when I wake up in the morning on game day, we’re leaving at the end of the night with two.”
There are plenty of reasons for Carolina’s success, but one seems to stand out above the rest:
Carolina started this season by playing eight of 10 on the road, including a six-game trip to open the campaign (GM Ron Francis said the schedule was “not ideal,” which was putting it lightly.)
Predictably, the ‘Canes struggled to a 3-4-3 start, but there was belief within the organization things would turn when the club finally got a run of games at PNC. And that’s proven to be accurate.
Tuesday’s win over the Blue Jackets pushed Carolina to 8-1-1 in its last 10 at home and, all told, the club has just four regulation losses at PNC this year, one of the top marks in the NHL.
Peters also seems to have found something with the Jeff Skinner–Victor Rask–Derek Ryan line, which combined for eight points against Columbus. Ryan, a terrific story who made his NHL debut at age 29, has turned into a bonafide scorer. He’s been a point-a-game guy through five games in January and, on the season, has eight goals and 17 points through 28 games.
Other guys have contributed as well. Jordan Staal, Sebastian Aho and Cam Ward — who made his 17th straight start on Tuesday — have come up with big performances.
If this keeps going, Carolina will have a legit shot at making the postseason for the first time since 2009.