Tuesday, September 23, 2008

NHL Season Preview: Carolina Hurricanes

Remember at the end of last season, when Carolina needed to win just two of their final four games (two of which were against the worst team in the League) to make the playoffs? And when they only needed to beat the lowly Florida Panthers, at home no less, to get in? Remember when you were with the Beatles and you were supposed to be dead, and there were all these clues, like you play some song backwards and it'd say, like "Paul is Dead" and everybody thought you were dead and, um, that was a hoax right? Wait, what?

Anyway, my 'Canes preview is up over at FanHouse, which means it's time to look back at my effort from last year.

Where They'll Finish: Carolina could finish anywhere in the Southeast Division, and really just about anywhere in the Eastern Conference -- it all depends on how healthy they can stay and how well Cam Ward can play (no pressure, kid!). But even healthy, the defense is among the Conference's worst, and for that reason, while the 'Canes will win a number of high-scoring affairs, they won't win enough games overall to make the playoffs.
The Hurricanes were decimated by injuries last season, but still scored the fifth-most goals in the League. Ultimately, it was their defense (or lack thereof - they were 25th in the League in goals against) that secured them an early tee time last April.

Andrew Ladd and should get his first [25-goal] season sooner rather than later.
Maybe this will be Ladd's year, as he only found the net 14 times in 2007-08.

So are you feelin' this year's 'Canes or has the injury to Justin Williams derailed their season before it even started? Is Cam Ward a legitimate number one NHL netminder? Is Eric Staal worth the big bucks he just got? Most importantly... are the 'Canes a threat to win the Southeast Division?


wittcap79 said...

Let's see...

Yes. (I don't think he's any better than our JT though)
The Canes are the only threat to the SE Crown.

~Mark said...

Without Williams and COle, and the loss of the old-timers on the blue line, I just don't see how this team is better than last year's (and we know how that turned out). If Cam Ward stands on his head, Maybe they squeak into the 8th playoff spot.
This is not, however, a betting man's maybe.


1) After two disappointing non-playoff seasons, we believe the 'Canes will be back. Assuming no further injuries Carolina still has one of the better set of forwards in the East.
2) We also like their mobile, good skating defense led by new comer Joni Pitkanen and Joe Corvo. They will miss Cole's toughness and scoring touch, but if Samsonov can continue his renaissance of sorts, the Canes will score enough goals to win their share of games.
3) They will need Cam Ward to elevate his gameto 2006 playoff levels, not play inconsistent like last season for the team to succeed. Still, we see enough of an improvement to push the Canes into a 2nd place SE division finish, good for 6th in the East.

Sombrero Guy said...

Great Chris Farley Show reference.

I think the Canes can sneak into one of the final two spots. MAYBE. But I wouldn't put money on it.

Mike said...

Living in Raleigh, but being a die-hard Caps fan, I believe I have a unique perspective. I think the Canes will be better then some give them credit for, and will make the playoffs (2nd in the Southeast behind the Caps) as a 5-6 seed. I think they have upgraded their defense, and that Cam Ward will be back to more of a style of play like the playoffs rather then the two years since.

WufPirate said...

Thanks for the reminder of April, JP. Thanks a lot.

And yes, the Canes are a threat. Ladd won't help the cause though, he's a Blackhawk now.

JP said...

@ WP: Yeah, I know Ladd's in ChiTown... but it still might be his year.

I'm just not sure how much better the defense will be and I think the offense is worse without Cole, Stillman and Williams. Ward should continue to be better.

I stand by second place in the SED and a 6-9 finish in the Conference.

JP said...

(And yeah, I know Stillman was gone in February, but the drop off to Eaves there is significant, though the upgrade in getting Corvo was also huge)

MrsBackstromWannabe said...

Without Staal and Ward, I don't think they would be a threat. But they have Staal and Ward, so they are a threat. I still think they will come behind us in anything playoff related.