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Examining the Carolina Hurricanes

by John McGourty

Complete Hurricanes Analysis:
Intro | Goalies | Defense | Forwards
Feature | Numbers | Sked | Roster

'Canes looking for a bounce back year

Some people, perhaps including some inside the Carolina Hurricanes' organization, think it was an embarrassment to go from Stanley Cup champions two years ago to failing to make the playoffs last season. Club officials are free to view it however they wish, but for the rest of us it's a lesson in how difficult it is to finish in the top half of your conference in any year. Four Eastern Conference teams that failed to make the playoffs in 2006-07 won or tied more games than they lost.

The Hurricanes had a decent offense last season, a young goalie who, while not bad, wasn't consistently good and a defense that got older and less effective. The Hurricanes boast some of the top offensive talent in the NHL, but finished 25th in power-play efficiency, scoring in only 15 percent of such situations.

Carolina GM Jim Rutherford took steps to improve the power play and get stronger at center by re-acquiring Matt Cullen, an important member of their 2006 Stanley Cup team who played last season for the New York Rangers. They also signed productive center Jeff Hamilton from Chicago and goalie Michael Leighton.

Defenseman Frantisek Kaberle suffered a late-summer injury and underwent surgery on the eve of training camp for the second-straight year. That's going to hurt the defense.

Cam Ward stayed in Raleigh this summer to work on his fitness and will play 20 pounds lighter. He says he feels great.

So, if you're weighed down by the Hurricanes' finish last season, do what Ward did: Shake it off. The Hurricanes will be part of a highly contentious Southeast Division race.
2006-07 Record:
40-34-8, 3rd Southeast

Who's In:
F Jeff Hamilton, F Matt Cullen, G Michael Leighton

Who's Out:
F Josef Vasicek, F Shane Willis, D Andrew Hutchinson, D Anton Babchuk, D David Tanabe, F Eric Belanger

2006-07 Leading Scorers:
Ray Whitney (32-51-83), Rod Brind'Amour (26-56-82), Eric Staal (30-40-70), Justin Williams (33-34-67) Erik Cole (29-32-61) 

2006-07 Goaltending Leaders:
Cam Ward  30-21-6  2.93 GAA, 60 appearances, .897 save percentage, 2 shutouts; John Grahame  10-13-2,  2.85 GAA, 28 appearances, .897 save percentage, 0 shutouts                     's 2007-08 Hurricanes Season Preview Package:
Intro | Goalies | Defense | Forwards | Feature | Numbers | Sked | Roster
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