Hurricanes’ Must Watch Games in March 2023

As the calendar prepares to turn to March, the Carolina Hurricanes find themselves in a prime position sitting atop the Metropolitan Division with a record of 39-11-8 (86 points). They will have several big games in March as they attempt to hold on to their lead in the division down the stretch. In this piece, we will highlight a few of these key matchups.

With the second-best record in the NHL only trailing the Boston Bruins, it would appear as if the fanbase has a lot to be happy about with the postseason approaching. However, there’s a lot of contention amongst the fanbase about the Hurricanes’ lack of activity so far on the trade deadline front. A lot of their Eastern Conference foes have strengthened their rosters in the last week, most notably with the New Jersey Devils adding Timo Meier from the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 26. NHL insider Pierre LeBrun previously mentioned the Hurricanes as a possible landing spot for Meier but reported that they were out of the sweepstakes late on Feb. 25.

Now with the trade deadline quickly approaching on March 3 at 3 p.m.(ET), all eyes are on Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell to see if he decides to make a move to improve his roster.

March 12: @ New Jersey Devils

The Hurricanes will travel to take on the New Jersey Devils in mid-March in a key Metropolitan Division showdown between the top two teams currently. Carolina holds a 2-1 season series lead over New Jersey, but this will be their first matchup since the Devils acquired Meier. This one should have a big game feel as the Hurricanes will look to prove that they are still the top dog in the Metropolitan. Both teams are scorching hot heading into March, with the Hurricanes holding a record of 8-2 in their last ten while the Devils are 7-2-1 over that same stretch.

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Both teams are particularly stingy at giving up goals, with Carolina averaging 2.57 goals allowed per game and New Jersey averaging 2.63, good for third and fifth in the NHL respectively. This matchup could come down to which goalie has a better night in net, whether it’s Antti Raanta or Frederik Andersen for Carolina going up against Vitek Vanecek for New Jersey.

Antti Raanta Carolina Hurricanes
Antti Raanta, Carolina Hurricanes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

A key storyline down the stretch will be the battle between Carolina and New Jersey for the top spot in the division. FiveThirtyEight currently gives Carolina a 52 percent chance to get the victory on March 12.

March 23: vs. New York Rangers

The Carolina Hurricanes have two big matchups against the New York Rangers in March, with the contests coming in back-to-back fashion. I’ve chosen to highlight the matchup on March 23 which will take place at PNC Arena in Raleigh. The Rangers have had the Hurricanes’ number so far this season, winning all three matchups and outscoring Carolina 17-7 in the season series. I believe it is very important for this Hurricanes’ team to have some success against the Rangers, given the possibility of these two teams matching up in the playoffs once again.

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While the season series against a particular team has no bearing on the outcome of a playoff series, the last thing Carolina wants to do is face the team that eliminated them in 2021-22 on the heels of going 0-5 against them in the regular season. I expect the Hurricanes to come out with tons of energy for these two matchups and would be very surprised if they were to drop both.

March 26: vs. Boston Bruins

This selection is pretty self-explanatory in what could very well be a matchup of the two best teams in the NHL by record come March 26. Boston is on a torrid pace so far in 2022-23 with an impressive record of 46-8-5 (97 points), and Carolina has been the only team within 10-12 points of the Bruins for the majority of the past eight to 12 weeks. The two teams have split the season series to this point, with Carolina winning the most recent matchup 4-1 on Jan. 29.

Statistically, both teams are within the top five in the NHL in pretty much every category; however, there is one noticeable difference that separates the two teams. Boston has the eighth-best power play percentage at 23.3, while Carolina has struggled this season holding the 23rd-best power play percentage in the NHL at 19.4.

It will be interesting to see if Carolina can get the win in this massive matchup and earn the season series victory over what appears to be the prohibitive Stanley Cup favorite heading into March. FiveThirtyEight gives the Hurricanes a 51 percent chance to get the win.

Important Weeks Ahead

There’s no doubt that the Hurricanes will have a lot of big-time games over the next six weeks. They will certainly face some pressure from the Devils and Rangers who currently trail them by three and nine points respectively. It’s important that Carolina continues to win at the impressive pace they’ve shown of late, as they look to win the Metropolitan Division title for the second consecutive season.

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