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Twenty Games In (2019-2020)

Elsker

Active member
The twenty-game benchmark kind of snuck up on me this season, partially because I'm pretty busy at work at the moment and haven't been standings-watching or even closely tracking our record.

Maybe this traditional benchmark has lost a bit of luster since the defending Stanley Cup champions came storming back from their worst-in-the-league status last season. And even the Canes themselves snatched victory from defeat with their 2019 performance versus the 2018 portion of their last season to go from barely hanging in there to a deep run in the playoffs.

But the benchmark is still relevant in that long-term stats confirm that 75% of teams that are in playoff position at this point of their season actually make the playoffs. And very few teams that are more than 3 or 4 points out at this stage revive and make the playoffs.

So the good news is that for the first time since we have been doing this series, the Canes are solidly in the mix at this point, mostly due to their hot start out of the gate. But also because after stumbling, they appear to be finding their game.

25 points (12-7-1) has the Canes third in the Metro trailing the Capitals (23GP 16-3-4) league-leading 36 point pace (no one else even in the thirties) and the Islander's surprising 29 points (18GP 14-3-1). Boston leads the Atlantic with 29 points (20GP 12-3-5). And it's interesting to note that only those two teams have more wins than the Canes in the East. And that also only Edmonton and Arizona have more wins in the west with each at 13 wins after 22 GP.

Points gained during this portion of the schedule are going to be important as there will be little chance to run anyone down during the last month or so of the Canes schedule. We face some real powerhouses during that ending stretch, one after another with little relief. So need to make some hay while the sun is shining.

This season's version of the team features talent levels we haven't seen in...well forever. An entire third line of new talent was inserted pushing last season's third line down to be our fourth line this season. And talent we only got glimpses of last season is really emerging playing in new roles and with a bit more familiarity with the system.

We are finally beginning to see what we missed all those seasons we wandered around in the desert with a cap floor payroll. When you actually spend to the cap you get four or five legit NHL players that a cap floor team simply cannot afford to put on their roster. Still overslotting on occasion (*cough*Foegele*cough). But not as a way of life, as we did before as we tried to plug all the spaces between our aces.

Here is last season's Twenty Games In thread: Twenty Games In (2018-2019)

Previous season's discussions were lost in the move. But here is a summary of where we were at the 20-game mark for a few past seasons and those season's outcome:

2018-2019: 21 points and four points out (made playoffs; swept in the conference final)
2017-2018: 22 points and four points out (drafted Svechnikov after winning 2nd overall in the lottery from the 11th position)
2016-2017: 20 points and five points out (drafted Necas 12th overall)
2015-2016: 17 points and six points out (drafted Bean 13th overall)
2014-2015: 15 points and nine points out (drafted Hanifin 5th overall...and Aho 35th overall)

The progression is evident and the drafted talent has been legit. Savvy trades and some solid free agent acquisitions with the expanded budget has the roster looking better than it ever has before.

We have seemingly survived our usual poor starts with a hot start instead. The usual long State Fair road trip was shortened this season. And we have so far only slightly stumbled during our usual November collapse. Again, we're going to need all of this good fortune since any running down from behind scenarios at the end of this season is going to be tough with our March/April schedule.

But this season I do like our chances to not only make the playoffs, but apply the lessons we learned from the three very different series we experienced last season. We battled our way to a Game 7 OT win against the defending Cup champions, swept a team and learned how to dominate, and in turn got swept by a powerhouse and hopefully learned something from that experience.

This young team is learning and gelling well to have so many new faces added. One-quarter of the way there. Win the day.
 
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HNIM

Active member
We're not REALLY spent (in terms of salaries) to the cap, with 8.6 million in buyouts. Although we need to keep that in reserve down the road for Svech.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
Yeah, that Cap figure is clearly year to year and if you adjusted it for the reality of what you're paying for just the active payroll, the Canes would slip to the bottom 3rd of the league again. But, with pending obligations such as Svech and Dougie plus what looks set up to be a constant churn in terms of depth ... that flexibility is encouraging. I think the most encouraging sign of all in terms of the general direction of the teams isn't really just where they sit in that standings. Nope ... it's that the team is now being run with obvious ambition. The front office won't be perfect, but we're aggressively trying to get better both short term and long term. No more holding patterns, no more lazy scouting, no more lack of vision. You can argue about the approach, but at least there IS one these days.

That said, keep a few things in mind ... looking at the REAL standings, adjusted for games played, the Canes sit 3rd in the Metro and are on a healthy 5 point pace ahead of the Pens and Flyers in the wildcard slots. However, you bloody well know that Toronto and Tampa, who are currently both out of the playoff picture, aren't both going to fade away quietly. In fact, I'd bet neither one of them do. Carolina's early schedule has been weirdly soft as well, as we've loaded up on the Western Conference and played very few games against the current Eastern playoff group. IMO this is a time for cautious optimism. The Canes are in good position and haven't really hit their stride as a team, but there's a LOT of work yet to do.
 

cmaleski2

Well-known member
Clearly the Canes have turned a corner with Dundon as the new owner. Its a whole new era now with how the roster is constructed, the money being spent, free agent pursuits, etc. The present and future is brighter then, well, ever?

You also cannot discount just how damn lucky we were to draft Svech. This team already had a pretty solid young base and was far from the worst team in the league prior to last season, and then we jump up from 11th to 2nd in the draft and get the best forward available. And not just a snoozer of a 'best forward available', we get a guy with all of these crazy elite skills who works his ass off.

This team still has to shore up some holes in their game, we obviously can't be getting out to 2+ goal leads all the time and then fighting to hold on or win those games in OT every time. But so far this team looks like a worthy extension of last year's 2nd half team. They are good.

By the way, one thing to remember about those OT wins....the rules for standings tiebreakers were amended. The first tiebreaker is now Regulation wins, followed by ROW (regulation and OT wins). This being the first season with that rule change, its unclear how much of a difference that might make, if any. But given that is the case, even though its great the Canes are still winning games in OT where they have blown regulation leads, that OT win is no longer an absolute equal to a regulation win if the standings require tiebreakers to be applied.

Starting this season its Regulation Win > OT win > Shootout win > OT/Shootout loss > Regulation loss.
 

HurryCanes

Active member
Clearly the Canes have turned a corner with Dundon as the new owner. Its a whole new era now with how the roster is constructed, the money being spent, free agent pursuits, etc. The present and future is brighter then, well, ever?

You also cannot discount just how damn lucky we were to draft Svech. This team already had a pretty solid young base and was far from the worst team in the league prior to last season, and then we jump up from 11th to 2nd in the draft and get the best forward available. And not just a snoozer of a 'best forward available', we get a guy with all of these crazy elite skills who works his ass off.

This team still has to shore up some holes in their game, we obviously can't be getting out to 2+ goal leads all the time and then fighting to hold on or win those games in OT every time. But so far this team looks like a worthy extension of last year's 2nd half team. They are good.

By the way, one thing to remember about those OT wins....the rules for standings tiebreakers were amended. The first tiebreaker is now Regulation wins, followed by ROW (regulation and OT wins). This being the first season with that rule change, its unclear how much of a difference that might make, if any. But given that is the case, even though its great the Canes are still winning games in OT where they have blown regulation leads, that OT win is no longer an absolute equal to a regulation win if the standings require tiebreakers to be applied.

Starting this season its Regulation Win > OT win > Shootout win > OT/Shootout loss > Regulation loss.
Ditto! and the fact that Svetch landed here with Brindy as the coach will only help that kid continue to drive hard.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
FWIW ... the Canes are in one of those weird transitions where you go from expecting to keep getting better to expecting to get results in the here and now. That's not always an easy stage and they're doing it with a coach who is still learning as well. I think they've handled their business well thus far, but growing pains are still to be expected.
 
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