It could be called the Canes conundrum but the same applies to the Edmonton Oilers.
The coaches want to win games. The players want to win games. It's ingrained in them.
But at the same time, both teams are thinking ahead to June and the lottery odds for the 2015 NHL Draft. Every victory lessens the chances of perhaps getting that big impact player in the draft.
It's a hockey Catch-22 -- losing can be good -- and something the Canes and Oilers, who face off Sunday at 3 p.m. at PNC Arena, will deal with the rest of the season.
"We want to finish our final 19 games off strong," Canes center Victor Rask said Saturday. "It will help us get set for next year. We feel like we can beat any team in the league and we just want to keep working hard."
The Hurricanes (24-32-7), 15th in the Eastern Conference, have a home-heavy March schedule with 11 games at PNC Arena. The game against the Oilers' in the second in a five-game homestand that began with a tasteless 3-1 loss Friday against the Minnesota Wild, albeit perhaps the hottest team in the league.
The Hurricanes this past week began their season-ticket push for the 2015-2016 season and the raised ticket prices for next year add even more urgency to putting a good product on the ice at home this month and giving their fans some hope -- and another reason to renew.
"I think it's the most important part of the year for our team right now," Canes coach Bill Peters said. "We're down to 19 games left, we've got our next four at home. We should be fresh. We've got a great schedule.
"It's an unbelievable opportunity to have a good homestand. So I expect to have a good homestand and I expect everyone to pull in the same direction and have a positive result. When we finish this homestand I expect us to be very happy with where we're at."
The Canes last played the Oilers in late-October, during a Canadian road trip. Jeff Skinner, Riley Nash and the since-traded Jay Harrison scored for Carolina but the Oilers got two goals and an assist from Jordan Eberle in a 6-3 victory at Rexall Place.
The loss was a part of the Canes 0-6-2 start in Peters' first season as coach. The Canes were without both Staal brothers in the game -- Jordan out with a broken leg, Eric with an upper-body injury -- and the lineup included Brody Sutter and Patrick Brown, both eager to play but inexperienced rookies.
It's now the final stretch of the season. The Oilers (18-36-11), last in the Western Conference, have since fired coach Dallas Eakins and brought in Todd Nelson. They're playing the second of five road games and coming off a tough 2-1 shootout loss against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Ben Scrivens was in net for the Oilers and made 38 saves, but Richard Bachman will draw the start against the Canes. Bachman has spent nearly all of the season in Oklahoma City (AHL), where he had a 2.20 goals-against average and three shutouts.
"We're going to keep the expectations high," Peters said. "We'll know way more about our team in the next six weeks than we do today."