Posted September 24, 2013 on AP on Fox
The Carolina Hurricanes could have an easier time filling their arena this season - and a tougher time getting back to the playoffs. The NHL's realignment meant the end of the Southeast Division and placed the Hurricanes into the new Metropolitan Division. A division packed with some of the league's most popular teams - Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, both New York teams, New Jersey and Washington - might lead to bigger crowds. But it also figures to make ending their irksome postseason drought a much bigger challenge. ''It's going to be tough. It's a good division,'' defenseman Justin Faulk said. ''Obviously, there's a lot of teams that are pretty good. ... But we're looking forward to it. Every team's good in the league. ''I don't think you go into any game thinking you can just win every game,'' he added. ''Every night, anyone can win, and I think we're pretty confident with the group that we have in here to do a pretty good job.'' Since winning its only Stanley Cup in 2006, Carolina has reached the playoffs just once, in 2009. Among teams in the current configuration of the Eastern Conference, only Toronto and Columbus have not made the postseason since then. That hasn't exactly been easy for the players to digest, goalie Cam Ward said. ''You can already sense the attitude. ... Guys are hungry and excited to get things going,'' Ward said. --- Five things to know about the Hurricanes' first season in the Metro Division: BLUE-LINE BLUES: Carolina once again made upgrading its defensive corps a priority this offseason, though a lingering injury threatened to undercut its moves. The Hurricanes brought in free-agent Mike Komisarek and picked up Andrej Sekera in a draft-day trade for D Jamie McBain, whom the front office had soured upon. A day after it was learned that key D Joni Pitkanen will miss the season with a slow-to-heal broken heel, Carolina signed free-agent Ron Hainsey to a one-year deal. NOT AN INFIRMARY WARD: The Hurricanes need Ward to stay healthy because the team's tailspin last season coincided with what turned out to be a season-ending injury to their All-Star goalie. Before he sprained his left knee on March 3, the Hurricanes were in prime position to contend for a division title. Carolina wound up finishing with the league's second-worst goals-against average (3.31). Veteran Anton Khudobin, who signed a free-agent deal in July to back up Ward, looks like an upgrade over Dan Ellis, who signed with Dallas over the summer. SEMIN'S SECOND ACT: Alexander Semin shed all those unflattering labels that stuck on him during in Washington and fit right in last season with the Hurricanes, who rewarded him with a five-year, $35 million deal in March. He was second on the team with 44 points (13 goals, 31 assists) and teamed with captain Eric Staal and breakout winger Jiri Tlusty to form Carolina's unquestioned top line, which produced nearly 43 percent of the team's goals, not counting shootouts. Now the question now becomes, can he continue to produce at the same high level now that he has the most lucrative contract of his career? CAN JORDAN RULE?: The Hurricanes could use some more scoring punch from their major acquisition of 2012 - Jordan Staal. The younger brother of the team captain had just 10 goals and 21 assists last season, and Carolina hopes he has become fully acclimated to the organization. The right combination could be putting him on a line with Tuomo Ruutu, another physical forward. NOT-SO-SPECIAL TEAMS: Carolina has struggled lately both when it has had an extra skater and when it's been down a man. The Hurricanes' power play ranked 27th in the league last season while their penalty kill was 28th. Those numbers have to improve if they're going to bring an end to that postseason drought. --- Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at

Matt Karash: The Chad Larose blog

I will get back to the business at hand of trying to round out a 2013-14 Carolina Hurricanes roster either tonight or tomorrow but am taking a break for something else important. I originally drafted this story about 2 months ago when it became pretty clear from interviews with Canes GM Jim Rutherford that Chad Larose would not be returning to the Carolina Hurricanes. But it...

All That Has Transpired: Carolina Hurricanes

We’re going to take a look at each NHL team, breaking down every new addition and subtraction, as well as promising prospects. Today, we take a look at the Carolina Hurricanes. By: Andy Hughes (@PensNation_Andy)   Carolina Hurricanes 2013 Season: 19-25-4, 42 pts (3rd Southeast Division, 13th Eastern Conference) Free Agents Signed: Although many Hurricanes fans did not like the...

Figuring out the Hurricanes forward depth

If you follow Raleigh News & Observer writer Chip Alexander on Twitter, then you have probably seen the Hurricanes forward line combinations during training camp and said to yourself "what in the world is this team doing?" The Hurricanes top-six was thought to be set in stone but injuries to Alexander Semin, Elias Lindholm and Tuomo Ruutu have put a wrench in the team...

Tuomo Ruutu 2013-14 projection

Among all the off-season discussions concerning the Hurricanes, Tuomo Ruutu has been somewhat of an afterthought. With all of the hype surrounding the defense, Jeff Skinner and the bottom-six, it's easy to see why but Ruutu's still an important part of this team and the Hurricanes are going to need him to be healthy in order to be competitive in this new division. Ruutu&...

Matt Karash: Quick Mon practice update + Zach Boychuk + Matt Corrente "inside the game"

The report out of Canes practice today was mostly that of injuries. Gleason, Semin and Ruutu all took the day off. None of these are said to be serious injuries. All 3 are sort of day-to-day. Elias Lindholm did not take part in practice but did conditionings skating afterward. Minus 3 regular forwards, I do not think there was much to be gleaned from who skated with whom at...

Will goaltending be a problem for the Hurricanes?

The common narrative on the Hurricanes demise last season was that the team fell off the rails once goaltender Cam Ward got hurt, and it's easy to see why someone might come to that conclusion. The team went 7-17-3 once their starting netminder went down and gave nearly four goals per game during that stretch. I don't completely buy that theory because the team had a lot...
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