A couple of weeks ago, South Carolina Stingrays head coach Spencer Carbery figured it would take 82 points to get into the Kelly Cup playoffs this season.
Fort Wayne at South Carolina
Fort Wayne at South CarolinaWhen: Tonight, 7:05 p.m.Where: North Charleston ColiseumSeason series: First meetingTickets: 744-2248
Carbery’s reasoning was that in each of the last three seasons, 82 points has been good enough to earn a spot in the postseason.
With that in mind, Carbery put up a “magic number” flip calendar in the Stingrays locker room with a countdown to the number of wins it would take. The top eight teams in the ECHL’s Eastern Conference will advance to the Kelly Cup playoffs.
With a month left in the regular season that number sits at eight. The Stingrays are 30-24-6 (66 points) going into this weekend’s two-game series with Fort Wayne. The Stingrays, who are currently in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, need 16 points or eight wins to reach 82.
To get into the playoffs, Carbery believes the Stingrays will have to go 8-4 down the stretch.
“If recent history is any indication, 80 to 82 points is what it’ll take to get to the playoffs,” Carbery said. “Obviously, nothing is guaranteed. There’s a lot of hockey left to be played and there are a lot of factors that we can’t control, but in the past 82 points has been kind of the benchmark for the postseason.”
Carbery has little doubt that the Stingrays, who are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games, can make the playoffs. Only Cincinnati, with nine wins in their last 10 games, has more victories than the Stingrays over the last three weeks.
“I think everyone in our locker room is confident that we can get the job done,” Carbery said. “We don’t want to have to rely on anyone else. We want to control our own destiny. We’ve got a reminder in our locker room every day of what we’ve got in front of us. We know what we’ve got to do.”
The back-to-back contests this weekend with Fort Wayne (28-28-2, 58 points) will be the final games against outside of the South Division for the Stingrays. Like the Stingrays, the Komets are fighting for their playoff lives at this point in the season.
The return of forward Chris Langkow should help the Stingrays cause. Langkow, who has 32 points on 16 goals and 16 assists for the Stingrays, has not played since Jan. 27 when he suffered an upper body injury. Langkow had been on a scoring tear right before getting hurt, scoring nine goals and his last 13 games.
“It’s been pretty frustrating sitting up in the stands watching everyone else play, especially recently because I’ve been so close to being ready to play,” Langkow said. “I feel great. I’m rested. I can’t wait to get back out on the ice.”
Defenseman Damon Kipp, who was also hurt in that Jan. 27 game with Orlando, is still a week away from returning to the lineup.
The status of defenseman Ryan McGinnis, whom the Stingrays acquired in a trade from Florida earlier in the week, remains uncertain. He was not at practice on Thursday.
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