Canes clinch divisional title for 1st time in 15 years

Carolina Hurricanes/NHL

Carolina Hurricanes’ Andrei Svechnikov, center, is congratulated on his goal by teammates during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — For the first time in 15 years, the Carolina Hurricanes will enter the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the top seed in their division.

Courtesy of a Tampa Bay Lightning loss, the Hurricanes have separated themselves just enough to clinch the Central division. Dating back to when the team was known as the Hartford Whalers, this marks the 5th time that the team has clinched the divisional title.

The last time the Hurricanes were division champs, they also became Stanley Cup champions. That was during the 2005-06 season.

Currently, the Hurricanes have 80 points to Tampa Bay’s 75 with just two games remaining for both teams. The Canes will close out its season on the road Monday against the Nashville Predators.

There were eight games left in the 2020-21 regular season when the Carolina Hurricanes clinched their third consecutive playoff berth.

The Canes are also in the driver’s seat to clinch the Presidents’ Trophy, given to the team that finishes with the most points. Trailing behind them are the Vegas Golden Knights with their 76 points.

That feat would bring more history to Raleigh, giving the team its first Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history.

“It’s probably the most irrelevant trophy out there, right? You’re not playing for that,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said on Saturday. “That’s not what we’re trying to get. If it falls in our laps because we play well in the last five games, great. We want to get first in the division. That’s the thing that’s most important.”

Capturing the Presidents’ trophy hasn’t proven fruitful for the last few winners. In fact, the last Presidents’ Trophy winner to capture the Stanley Cup were the Chicago Blackhawks in 2012-13, while every winner since has failed to advance to the Cup Final.

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