Carolina Hurricanes Horrible Conference Final Losing Streak Continues

Carolina Hurricanes, Frederik Andersen #31. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Carolina Hurricanes, Frederik Andersen #31. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Hockey is a sport of superstition. When the Florida Panthers won the Eastern Conference over the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday and the Prince of Wales Trophy was presented, most hockey fans immediately started to think “Will they touch it?”

That alludes to the old superstition that a hockey player never touches any trophy until they win the Stanley Cup. That, they can, and will touch, in addition to parading, carrying, and drinking various beverages out of it.

On the other end of the ice was the defeated Carolina Hurricanes. With their game four defeat, Carolina has continued a new superstition of their own. For their past three appearances in the Conference Final, the Hurricanes have been swept, or whatever Rod Brind’Amour wants to call it.

They have not won a Conference Final game since their Stanley Cup championship in 2005-2006. It was the 76th sweep in NHL playoff history and the only one of these playoffs so far. The Dallas Stars voided a sweep by winning game five against the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night.

When the Hurricanes get to the Conference Finals, the problems start.

Are the Hurricanes ever going to win a Conference Final game? Or will their continued postseason futility rival that of MLB’s Minnesota Twins? The Twins famously haven’t won a single postseason game since 2002 despite multiple appearances.

This Hurricanes team was supposed to be different than those other teams swept in the Conference Finals. The 2009 team was a plucky set of streaking Canes teams that hadn’t made the playoffs since their Cup-winning season and wouldn’t again until the 2018-2019 season.

2019 also saw the Canes make the Conference Final and was their first playoff appearance with their current core of Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, Jaccob Slavin, Teuvo Teravainen, and coach Rod Brind’Amour.

The young team was getting its first playoff experience and matched up against a tougher and more experienced Boston Bruins squad.

This season was the Hurricanes’ fifth straight postseason appearance. After the Boston Bruins fell, and they disposed easily of the New Jersey Devils, the conference seemed to be theirs for the taking. Why did they lose?

Was the loss of Andrei Svechnikov and no depth scoring too much to overcome? Are the Panthers simply a team of destiny (or a team of “vibes” and “clutch” as Bleacher Report liked to put it)? Were those overtime games unlucky losses for the team from Raleigh?

Scoring depth has been an issue for the Hurricanes in previous playoff runs. Losing Svechnikov didn’t make that any easier.

I’ve previously talked about how Stefan Noesen would play a bigger role and how Carolina would have to rely on offensive contributions from defensemen. Both Noesen and Slavin, the Canes’ top defenseman, were injured in their game four loss.

The two previous teams that swept Carolina had mixed results in the Stanley Cup Final. In 2009, Carolina lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins who would win their first Stanley Cup of the Sidney Crosby era that season. In 2019, the Boston Bruins would lose to the famous “last-place-to-championship” St. Louis Blues. Both Stanley Cup Final series went to seven games.

Winning in the Conference Final is the biggest dragon the Hurricanes have to slay if they want to win the second Stanley Cup in franchise history. Maybe if they had been fully healthy and faced off against anyone but the too-hot-to-handle Panthers, this would have been the year.

The two Panthers leading the charge. light. Related Story

Even with all the breaks against them, Carolina needs to find a way to win at least one game. That would be a nice start.