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Features

Canada expects pressure as World Junior camp opens

Saturday, 08.02.2014 / 10:50 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

Pressure to win is nothing new for Hockey Canada. But that pressure will only be heightened this year.

The Canada national junior team summer development camp gets underway Sunday just outside Montreal in Brossard, Quebec. It's there that 41 players will take their first few steps to earn a chance to play in the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, which begins Dec. 26 in Montreal and Toronto.

It's one thing to represent Canada in the WJC, it's quite another to do it at home. Playing the tournament in Canada's two biggest cities adds another level of pressure to this year's event.

Canada coach Benoit Groulx of the Gatineau Olympiques in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League knows this. But four months before the start of the tournament, he's not worried about the pressure.

In fact, he's embracing it.

"A lot of people are talking about pressure, and I think pressure is good," Groulx said. "It means we have a chance to win, it means we have a good team. There are teams who come to this tournament who say they have no pressure, but that means they don't think they will win. So for us, it's a positive. We are very aware of how big this will be, and that will be on the agenda for our week with the players. We're going to talk to them about it, but the players are also very aware of all that."

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Hurricanes need bounce-back season from Staal

Saturday, 08.02.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Davis Harper - NHL.com Staff Writer

When Eric Staal is on his game, he is one of the NHL's best offensive players and the man who makes the Carolina Hurricanes go. When he's less than his best, as he was for much of 2013-14, Staal's lack of productivity puts Carolina's attack on life support.

Staal was the fifth-highest paid player in the League last season with a salary of $9.25 million; his cap charge was $8.25 million, according to CapGeek. But he had his worst full-season offensive totals (20 goals, 41 assists and a minus-13 rating in 79 games) since 2003-04, his rookie season. For a player on whom the Hurricanes rely in nearly every on-ice situation, those numbers translated into a 36-35-11 record and a 13th-place finish in the Eastern Conference, their fifth straight non-playoff season.

New coach Bill Peters expects his captain to bounce back this season.

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New coach, GM tasked with reviving Hurricanes

Saturday, 08.02.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Davis Harper - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout August.

In some ways, this offseason has been an overhaul for the Carolina Hurricanes organization; in others, it has been a doubling down on the status quo.

On April 28, Jim Rutherford stepped down from the general manager post he had held since 1994, when the organization was still known as the Hartford Whalers. Taking his place is Ron Francis, who has held multiple positions with the Hurricanes, including vice president of hockey operations for the past three seasons, since retiring as a player in 2004.

Nine days later, Francis fired coach Kirk Muller and his staff after a second consecutive 13th-place finish in the Eastern Conference and an 80-80-27 overall record. The Hurricanes were unable to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs during Muller's three seasons at the helm, and their current five-season playoff drought is the longest in the conference.

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Power-play potency among Hurricanes' five questions

Saturday, 08.02.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Davis Harper - NHL.com Staff Writer

With a new general manager and coach but an almost identical roster to the one that finished 13th in the Eastern Conference in 2013-14, the Carolina Hurricanes enter the 2014-15 season with questions up and down the lineup. General manager Ron Francis and coach Bill Peters will have their work cut out for them, on offense, defense and special teams, if they hope to end Carolina's five-season Stanley Cup Playoff drought.

Here are five questions facing the Hurricanes:

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Forward depth a question for Hurricanes lineup

Saturday, 08.02.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Carolina Hurricanes made three deep playoff runs in a span of eight years, including a championship in 2006, but they have missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for five straight seasons.

PNC Arena boasts one of the League's best playoff atmospheres, but it has been too long since the building has been full of standing, screaming fans in the spring. The Hurricanes have a new general manager and a new coach, but they don't have a lot of new players.

Two seasons ago the Hurricanes scored enough to be a playoff team, but their goaltending failed them. Carolina prevented goals better in 2013-14 only to have the offense disappear. Depth up front remains a problem, though the defense corps could be improved.

Here's a look at the projected 2014-15 lineup for the Hurricanes:

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McGinn, Fleury among Hurricanes' top 10 prospects

Saturday, 08.02.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Carolina Hurricanes have shown a willingness the past few seasons to give significant roles to players just a few months after they were drafted. Since the 2008-09 season Zach Boychuk, Jeff Skinner and Elias Lindholm all saw action as 18-year-olds, with varying levels of success.

But with Ron Francis taking over as general manager, the club could start preaching a bit more patience with its younger players in allowing them to develop physically into NHL players.

"Everybody needs to get stronger," Hurricanes director of defense development Glen Wesley said. "That's one of the things if the guy is coming from junior or college he has to get better at, if it's the American Hockey League or the National Hockey League. You're playing against grown men and it's a completely different game. That's one of the things you have to be prepared for when you take the next step in your development."

Here's a look at the Hurricanes' top 10 prospects, according to NHL.com:

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Galiardi agrees to terms with Jets on 1-year contract

Friday, 08.01.2014 / 5:48 PM / NHL Free Agency 2014

NHL.com

Forward TJ Galiardi and the Winnipeg Jets have agreed to terms on a one-year, two-way contract worth $750,000, the team said Friday.

Galiardi, 26, had four goals, 17 points and 21 penalty minutes in 62 games with the Calgary Flames last season. He has 43 goals, 104 points and 134 penalty minutes in 283 regular-season games with Calgary, the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche.

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Defenseman Falk signs 1-year contract with Wild

Friday, 08.01.2014 / 5:43 PM / NHL Free Agency 2014

NHL.com

Defenseman Justin Falk has signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Minnesota Wild, the team announced Friday. Financial details were not disclosed.

Falk, 25, was drafted by Minnesota in the fourth round (No. 110) of the 2007 NHL Draft and played his first four seasons with the Wild.

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Lovejoy still feels sting of Ducks' loss to Kings

Friday, 08.01.2014 / 11:53 AM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

Anaheim Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy can't wait to get back on the ice and start wiping away the taste of a season-ending loss to the archrival Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We all left last season with an awful taste in our mouth, and it’s still there. We are desperate to get back on the ice and play that first game, that 40th game and that 82nd game," the 30-year-old defenseman told the Ducks website. "I want to get back in the swing of things. I’m ready to go. I love summer, but I’m over it. I’m ready for training camp and that first game. I’m ready to get competitive again."

The Ducks won the Pacific Division title, finished first in the Western Conference and led the Kings 3-2 entering Game 6 of their Western Conference Second Round series. But Los Angeles evened the series with a 2-1 victory at home, then rolled to a 6-2 win at Honda Center and went on to win the Stanley Cup for the second time in three seasons.

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U.S. World Junior players at camp under new coach

Friday, 08.01.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Mark Osiecki has been an assistant coach with the United States at the World Junior Championship on three occasions. The U.S. has won a medal each time.

This year Osiecki is in charge, and he'll get his first look at some of the players he'll have on his roster at the 2015 WJC at the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, N.Y. The camp will run Aug. 2-9, and feature practices and games against Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic.

Osiecki won gold medals working on the staff of Dean Blais in 2010 in Saskatoon and Phil Housley in 2013 in Russia, as well as a bronze as an assistant to Keith Allain in Buffalo in 2011. He told NHL.com that his team-building formula will blend what he learned from each of his former bosses.

"There's a lot of different ways and different personalities that can work," Osiecki said. "I was in Lake Placid a couple different times but not on the staff with Ron Rolston, saw how he handled things, then worked with Dean Blais, Keith Allain and Phil Housley, and they're all different in how they approached it. A lot of different ways worked well. That's what's going to be interesting about this team going into it. "

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Quote of the Day

It's always a little bit weird, but it moves on. They've got a good team, and they played well tonight. I think that's just part of it.

— Peter Laviolette on facing his former team (Flyers) for the first time since his departure