Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Hello Penguin Minions, Dave here from Carolina On Ice. When not bitching about lazy play, Sabres fans or old/slow players coming back to Raleigh - I'm either trying to promote college hockey or blogging about the Hurricanes at COI. Outside of the Al Gores, I sling shitters for a living (plumbing supply sales). It's more glorious than it sounds. You can find me at the majority of home games - usually folding up the tent and Coleman grill just in time to run inside for the puck drop.
Carolina steam-rolled almost everyone for the first month of the season. It climaxed with a rowdy trip through Eastern Canada with big wins over the Leafs, Habs and a previously undefeated Ottawa team.
Injuries took their toll again as Justin Williams was out for the year by December, Matt Cullen got jacked up/concussed and Brind'amour was taken out during the Valentine's Day Penguins game with a torn ACL. Some kind of horrible flu struck the team (and the city of Raleigh) where you had to stay on the toilet with a bucket in front of you constantly. Glen Wesley had it and apparently lost several pounds during his bout with the sickness. It took out almost everyone on the team throughout the beginning of 2008.
Without much of a choice, Jim Rutherford added Sergei Samsonov from the waiver wire in January and he actually played like he gave a shit for once. Samsonov chalked up 34 points in 38 games with Carolina and quickly caught on with the Hurricanes' up-tempo, offensive style. He was awarded immediately following the season with a 3 year deal averaging $2.5 mil. Methinks the first third of this season will show if he's really ready to get his head straight and play a complete season.
The first notable trade of '08 saw Jim Rutherford ship Mike Commodore & Cory Stillman to Ottawa for Joe Corvo & Patrick Eaves. Most pundits immediately called this a win for the Sens as they got two veteran players with Stanley Cup rings. However, the man who had been known as "Uh-oh Joe" in OTT instead flourished with the 'Canes posting up 21 points in 23 games and Eaves shows loads of potential. Corvo is on for 2 more years and Eaves signed a 3-year deal this offseason. As for Stillman & Commie? They're both among the newest overpaid players in the league with the Panthers and the Blue Jackets, respectively. Who won the trade now, bitches?
So yeah, the Canes blew their chances at the end of the season. Their last game of the year on April 4th had the Panthers who were already eliminated. All Carolina had to do was beat them and the Southeast crown was theirs. Damnit.
Erik Cole (traded to EDM)
Bret Hedican (old)
Glen Wesley (retired)
Keith Aucoin (free agent signing to WAS/Hershey)
John Grahame (sucks)
Joey Mormina (only played a game or two for Carolina, but did do this to Jeff Taffe and is now a Baby Pen. He's a 6'6" beast and sometimes rocks the porn-stache).
Joni Pitkanen (came in EDM trade)
Josef Melichar (been playing in Swedish league since he left Pitt)
Anton Babchuk (back from Russian exile after refusing to report to Albany in 06-07 season)
Dwight Helminen (some guy from Michigan who is a Finn. Or something.)
Michael Leighton (was the #1 goalie for the River Rats with a great season)
Brandon Sutter (first year as a pro, slated for 4th line center)
Maybe - Jeff O'Neill (here on a camp tryout after not playing for a year. Yes, that same Jeff O'Neill).
What might end up making or breaking the Hurricanes this year is consistent team defense and solid goal-tending. Those two haven't been around since the Cup run year. They come and they go. Scoring goals shouldn't be a problem as long as the forward corps can stay healthy. Even if they can't, last season showed that the stable in Albany was well-suited to fill in the holes.
and immediately won the Caniacs over. He finished out the year with a good offensive showing. He was brought in through the Chicago trade for Andrew Ladd - a winger who much like himself, never seemed to live up to lofty expectations. Ruutu signed a one-year deal over the summer and if healthy should replace some of the grit and hustle that Erik Cole delivered for so long.
As for post-season chances? Carolina led the division for the majority of the year last season. Everyone seems to have a boner for the Capitals' chances this year. They've got arguably the best player in the world but they do have Jose Theodore in net. The Pittsburgh South Lightning might win a few games this season, but they'll probably have to do it with 9 to 8 wins considering their defense and lack of goal-tending.
I'm predicting a Southeast crown, a 3rd place ranking in the playoffs and overall badass year for the Hurricanes.
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