I am happy to say that I received my playoff ticket (yep, that's one ticket) yesterday. Now, I start the 9 day wait to see how the playoffs will work out.
The Hurricanes are currently leading the Southeast Division by 4 points over The Washington Capitals. The Canes and the Caps played last night in a nail biter that went all the way to the final skater of the shoot out. Unfortunately, that final skater was a Cap, and the only one to score. The Caps gained one point on the Canes, but it is better than 2 points. The Canes have a good chance to pick up 4 points before they squared off against the Caps again next week. If the Canes can hold the lead in the Southeast, they will go into the playoffs as a #3 seed. If they don't win the division, they will likely still make the playoffs, but at a lower seed (currently, the would be a #6).
Rank does matter. The first time the Canes got to The Stanley Cup Finals, they were a #3 seed. That year, the #1 and the #2 seeds both fell in the first round. The Canes maintained home advantage throughout the playoffs after that, and met teams ranked lower than they were ranked. It is good to have the dirty work done for you.
It's still too close to call this year, but we are coming down the home stretch. I hope the Canes pull off the victory Friday night against the Thrashers. I will be screaming for them from section 338 - my home for now and the playoffs.