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Carolina Hurricanes surging late: Who's ready for the NHL playoffs and who isn't?

Carolina Hurricanes surging late: Who's ready for the NHL playoffs and who isn't?
Published On: Wed, Mar 13
Jun 24, 2016; Buffalo, NY, USA; Julien Gauthier is congratulated in the stands after being selected as the number twenty-one overall draft pick by the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft at the First Niagra Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Goalie Petr Mrazeka€™s best job reference last summer came from the man who decided he wasna€™t the right answer for the Detroit Red Wings.

a€œI remember calling (Detroit GM) Ken Holland and he said, a€˜When Petr gets on a roll, he can carry your team for five or six games,' a€ Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said.

Waddell signed Mrazek as a free agent last summer, and A the goalie has won seven of his last eight starts (.946 save percentage, three shutouts during that span)A to help the Hurricanes strengthen their hopes of qualifying for the playoffs for first time since 2009.

a€œI give Petr a lot of credit, because when we talked last year, he said, a€˜Don, ita€™s not about the money a€“ ita€™s about being in the right spot to have the opportunity to compete for playing time,'" Waddell recalled.A Thata€™s what you want to hear.a€

Mrazek volunteered toA take a one-year contract for $1.5 million if Waddell would give him a chance to be a No. 1 goalie.A 

The Hurricanes are 13-3-1 in their past 17 games and have been a spirited group, leading to a 12 percent jump in attendance.

a€œThe way the league is now, you know things arena€™t always going to go your way,a€ Waddell said. a€œThe key is how you bounce back when that happens. And thata€™s where wea€™ve been good the last 30 games.A We got spanked in Winnipeg when we played our worst game of the year and then we bounced in Nashville in a pretty tough environment with one of their better games of the year.a€

Carolina boastsA many contributors. Dougie Hamiltona€™s 10 goals since Jan. 1 are the most by any league defenseman. With 77 points in 69 games, Sebastian Aho might be one of the leaguea€™s most anonymous superstars. Rod Brinda€™Amour will get Coach of the Year votes.

The Hurricanesa€™ path to the playoffs doesna€™t get easier. From March 19 to April 2, they play Washington twice, Pittsburgh twice and Tampa Bay and Toronto once.

Read the complete news article here...

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