Canes Clinch Sixth Consecutive Playoff Spot: Weekly Carolina Hurricanes Recap

Karl B. DeBlaker, the Associated Press

RALEIGH, North Carolina: On Thursday, March 28, 2024, the Carolina Hurricanes clinched their sixth consecutive spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs with a 4-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings. The Canes took the shutout with goaltender Frederik Andersen at the hem. The win was Andersen’s second shutout of the season. Before Mar. 8, Andersen hadn’t played with the Canes since Nov. 6, as the team announced he would be out indefinitely due to blood clotting issues. The win marked Andersen’s undefeated streak, as he remains 7-0 throughout the year. Before 2018 – the start of leadership of Canes head coach Rod Brind’amour, GM Don Waddell, and majority owner Tom Dundon, the Canes hadn’t made playoff contention since 2009. Now, the Canes keep their Stanley Cup hopes alive.

The second period marked all four goals for Carolina. Center Sebastian Aho started, and right-winger Seth Jarvis scored afterward despite his goal streak fading on Sunday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Martin Necas celebrated his bobblehead night at PNC Arena by scoring, and the final goal was scored by Brady Skeji at the end of the second. Andersen, the game’s second star, is now likely to be considered for the Masterson Trophy for the season. Jarvis’s postgame quote, “We’re (Raleigh) a hockey city. Everyone knows it”, has become this season’s infamous “bunch of jerks” – a final rallying cry as the Canes and fans go into playoffs.

The Canes survived again against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, March 30. The final score was 3-0. Captain Jordan Staal marked the goal during the second period on a shorthanded powerplay. Future captain and Canes superstar Sebastian Aho scored on another powerplay during the start of the third. This goal marked Aho’s career-high of 84 points and 33 goals. Furthermore, Aho is now the third-highest scorer in Canes/Whalers history, surpassing Kevin Dineen with his 251st career point. Assists were credited to Guentzel and Jarvis, only emphasizing the line’s chemistry going into playoffs. To finish the third, Jarvis scored his twenty-ninth goal of the season. To the shock of no Canes fan, Jarvis’s goal was assisted by Aho and Guentzel.

Outside of the improvement in goaltending with the rotation of Andersen-Kochetkov, both games left fans with the takeaway that the Guentzel-Aho-Jarvis line is incredibly good. The line has combined for 18 goals and 24 assists as of March 30. In the words of beloved Canes broadcaster Tripp Tracy, the line has been “cooking with oil, gas, and gravy.” A Bally Sports South graphic referred to this line as the “Dream Line” during Saturday’s game. The high-performance level of this line creates growing expectations for the Canes during the postseason, especially as Guentzel fully adjusts to the Carolina system.

Carolina was expected to gain this playoff spot Tuesday evening in Pittsburgh but lost 4-1 to the Penguins. Former Canes right winger Jesse Puljujärvi, right winger Bryan Rust, and captain Sidney Crosby all marked goals during the game. Canes defenseman Dmitry Orlov scored the only goal for Carolina.

As for injuries, right winger Jesper Fast remains on the IR from an upper-body injury. Montreal marked his sixth missed game due to the injury, but he has remained in practices. Healthy scratches for Carolina are left winger Brendan Lemieux and defenseman Tony DeAngelo.

Carolina’s final schedule shrinks in longevity and intensity as the regular season comes to a close. In 24 days, the Canes have played 14 games. A several-day break starts directly before a homestand. Carolina starts the stead by playing President’s Trophy contenders Boston Bruins in Raleigh on April 4, before playing the Washington Capitals the next day. Their final home game will be Sunday, April 7, against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Canes conclude their regular season on the road with five games in Boston, Chicago, and Columbus. While the Canes aren’t expected to win the President’s Trophy, they start the playoffs in an enviable position on all fronts.

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