GDHQNHL15_2pg-Carolina Hurricanes 2

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Expect to see a lot of them this year. The problem is that after them, the Hurricanes are in trouble. They did try to improve things by resigning Tim Gleason, who suffered from concussion symptoms last year with Toronto. But he isn’t going to step in and become a stalwart. At best, he’ll provide some stability on the third pairing. It isn’t enough. The Hurricanes weren’t awful last year in goals allowed, finishing 17th in the league. Their second duo, Ron Hainsey and Ryan Murphy combines experience (Hainsey) and youth in the 21-year old Murphy. Murphy played 48 games last year and showed promise, but he’s not ready yet. Hainsey has experience but isn’t a big-time performer. Gleason will likely be paired with John-Michael Liles, who was traded from Toronto to Carolina last year after disappointing following the signing of a big contract. He spent part of last year in the minors and has two years remaining on the deal, so the Hurricanes have to hope he can return to the form that convinced the Leafs to give him big money in the first place. Big (6-4, 220) Jay Harrison will also factor into the defensive picture when the Hurricanes need a physical presence, and Brett Bellemore brings some more pop into the defensive group, although don’t expect a lot of scoring from him. Goaltending Even though Cam Ward was given a fat contract a few seasons ago and is owed $6.3 million this season, Carolina is going to give Anton Khudobin every chance to win the starting job. Ward has played a total of 44 games in the past two seasons, due to injury and had a decidedly uninspiring 3.06 GAA last year, with a poor .898 save percentage. Ward was 10-12-6 last year, and that isn’t going to get anybody into the postseason, so it’s up to Khudobin to make a case as the main man in net. Khudobin played in a career-high 36 games last year, starting 34. His 19-14-1 record wasn’t overwhelming, but he has a solid 2.30 GAA and a good, .926 save percentage. The 28-year old hadn’t played more than 14 games before in a season, so counting on him to be the main man is risky, but if Ward can’t stay healthy and return to his previous form, the Hurricanes will have no other option. Power Play This was a disaster last year. Carolina’s 14.59 percent success rate was third worst in the league, which leads one to wonder how much trouble the other two teams had. Peters made it a priority to improve the power play from the moment he arrived in Carolina. The leader of the power play brigade for the Hurricanes is Skinner, who scored 11 times last year. He’ll be expected to produce at least as many goals—and probably more, since the ‘Canes lacked pop behind him and Semin, who had six. If he is healthy this year, he will play more games and likely will be more productive. Carolina can expect Sekera to provide a big shot from the point, and Faulk was productive on the unit, too. But after that, there isn’t a lot. Lindholm may turn 20 this December, but he had four goals on the advantage last year and has the potential to be a bigger producer this season. Penalty Kill Even though Peters has never been a head coach, he did have a lot of responsibility in Detroit and spent a lot of time on the penalty kill. The Wings were better than the league average last year. Carolina, however, was not. And losing Jordan Staal for several months isn’t going to help things. Andrej Sekera, Justin Faulk Francois Lacasse/NHL/Getty Images Carolina had 11 shorthanded goals last year, which wasn’t bad, but the team still must improve its kill numbers. One of the problems is that the lack of depth defensively doesn’t allow for many breaks for Faulk and Sekera. And since the goaltending wasn’t locked down, there was a concern there. Although Nathan Gerbe is only 5-5, he is a dynamo on the penalty kill, something that helps, but there isn’t enough with him. Peters will have plenty of work to do. Prediction The Hurricanes made good moves importing Peters and new GM Ron Francis, but that’s just a start. Carolina has to figure out its goaltending situation and upgrade its defense, if it wants to contend. Even then, there probably isn’t enough offense to allow a playoff run. Looks like it’s going to be eight of nine years without a postseason berth. Scoreboard 13 12 11 10 09 PLAYOFF FINISH DNQ DNQ DNQ DNQ DNQ REGULAR SEASON 36-35-11 19-25-4 33-33-16 40-31-11 35-37-10 POINT TOTAL 83 42 82 91 80 SHOOTOUT RECORD 2-4 1-1 1-6 5-5 4-5 GOALS SCORED 207 128 213 236 230 GOALS AGAINST 230 160 243 239 256 POWER PLAY % 14.59 14.55 16.67 15.90 17.02 PENALTY KILL % 81.74 77.64 80.56 81.25 80.63


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