The Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup playoffs back in 2006 but the following year failed to reach the playoffs. The team is in a position to fail to make the playoffs again however. The Reason this will not happen is leadership and experience.
The Carolina Hurricanes unlike the Washington Capitals are an very experienced team. The Hurricanes have veterans in Bret Hedican, Niclas Wallin, Sergei(sp?) Samsonov, and Ray Whitney. Follow that up with young stars in Tumo Ruutu and Eric Staal you have a team that is well rounded and can put the puck in the net. The Hurricanes also have a very good coaching staff that have a lot of experience in the league with even future NHL players!
The Hurricanes also have great leadership. Hurt Captain Rod Brind' Amour is a great leader. You have players stepping into the leadership position in Eric Staal and being clutch when he is needed to. You have The Wizard aka Ray Whitney who has played in a lot of play-off games. The Canes also have Scott Walker. Scott Walker is to me the Energizer Bunny on the team. He scraps, he works hard, he never stops working and gets the Carolina Hurricanes energy back in there step.
With the leadership and experience down the stretch, I don't see an inexperienced team in the Washington Capitals being able to push out the Carolina Hurricanes. If the Hurricanes beat the Tampa Bay Lightning they put themselves against an opponent who they have had success against, The Florida Panthers.
The Hurricanes destiny lies in their own hands. Let's see what they do with it!