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New-look Hurricanes ready to make amends

by Alain Poupart /

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Carolina Hurricanes will begin this season exactly where they ended the last one, but they're confident they're a lot better than the team that last played at the BB&T Center.

After missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2011-12, the Hurricanes made a couple of significant moves in the offseason, most notably the acquisition via trade of center Jordan Staal and the signing of free-agent wing Alexander Semin.

The 4-1 loss against the Florida Panthers on April 7 left Carolina in 12th place in the Eastern Conference standings, last in the Southeast Division.

The Hurricanes watched the Panthers celebrate clinching the division title that night, and Saturday night they'll watch a banner go up before the new season begins.

Carolina captain Eric Staal said that will just add even more motivation to a new season already filled with it.

"For the guys that we here, no question," he said. "They're the team that took our division last year and that's something that we want to make sure that we achieve this year. We want to turn the tables and we want it to be the other way around next time. We're ready to go.

"We obviously remember that feeling from the end of the year last year not going on to the playoffs and not playing playoff hockey and it's a bitter taste and a bitter feeling. We want to make sure we get the ball rolling tonight. It's a team we want to beat in our division and we're excited to get started."

The game Saturday night also will be special for the Staal brothers, who get to play together in an NHL regular season for the first time.

"Yeah, it's an exciting time, being on a new team and being with my brother is that much more exciting," said Jordan, who signed a 10-year extension with Carolina nine days after being acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins. "It's going to be hopefully a good time and hopefully we can find a way to win the game."

Florida won five of the six meetings between the teams last season.

"They have a really good team," Jordan Staal said. "They showed that last year. They were very close to beating Jersey and moving on and doing a lot of good things in the playoffs. We're going to have to be aware of just playing a good team and trying to come out as best we can."

Jordan Staal is excited about his new team, even though he left one of the most talented units in the League.

Still, he and his brother are excited about what their team can accomplish this season.

"We feel like we've got a good core here and we've added some really good pieces to it," Eric said. "It's exciting for our fans and our organization just to see how it plays out coming up. It starts with the work ethic and the drive to get the wins and hopefully get everyone jelling and on the same page early and get the wins coming."

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