Found April 28, 2013 on Fox Sports Carolinas:
Losing the season finale 8-3 Saturday against the Penguins while giving up five goals in the third period wasnt exactly how the Hurricanes wanted to end this season. But then again, maybe it was fitting as the 'Canes finished 19-25-4 with 42 points, ahead of only two teams in the Eastern Conference. Now that the postseason has officially launched, the organization must deal with not being a part of it for a fourth consecutive season. Only the Jets, who were the Thrashers until two seasons ago, have failed to make the playoffs from the East over that stretch. On paper, the Hurricanes looked like a possible contender when the season began, making the slide which included dropping 14 of 15 games in one stretch even more discouraging. The 2013-14 campaign must be different, making this a crucial offseason. Here are three things that went right and three things that went wrong this season: Three Things That Went Right 1. The Return of Eric Staal Not that he ever left or was injured, but the anchor of the franchise, who is four years into a seven-year, 57.25 million contract, struggled horribly to close the 2011 season and wasnt entirely the player the brass expected last year. But, he got going again this season, looking more like the player that had 100 points in '06 and 82 in '08. Staal scored just 18 goals, but had 35 assists and finished sixth in the NHL with 53 points. In a full season, those numbers would project to 31 goals and 71 assists for 102 points. That is big-time. This season, Staal was more captain-like and the face of the franchise in the locker room as much as on the ice. That in itself is a terrific development that should only help the team moving forward. 2. Future Backup? Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford may kick himself for not actively pursuing another goaltender when Cam Ward went down for the season on March 3, but moving forward, that may have been a valuable decision. The team still has to decide on a backup to Ward for next season, but at least its armed with more information than it would have had if Ward never went down. Dan Ellis, who played 19 games in net, doesnt have a contract for next season, while Justin Peters does. That makes Ellis the odd man out. Peters, who was Wards primary backup in 2010-11, was slated to spend the entire season in Charlotte before Wards injury, but ended up playing in 19 games, too. If Peters is the man, Carolina will have a far more experienced backup than was the original plan. Or, perhaps the team saw enough and will find a player currently outside of the organization. Either way, getting a serious look at Peters this season could pay off next winter. 3. Youth Infusion Six players made their NHL debuts for the 'Canes, which would be a remarkable figure in a full 82-game season, much less a lockout-shortened 48-game one. A positive from the many injuries that afflicted the 'Canes was that Rutherford and coach Kirk Muller got to look at many of the franchises prospects in person and against NHL competition as Brett Bellemore, Chris Terry, Michal Jordan, Nicolas Blanchard, Ryan Murphy and Jared Staal all saw action. Staal helped make history when Carolina dressed three brothers in the same game for just the 10th time in major sports history, and Murphy made his anticipated move to the NHL before returning to Kitchener of the OHL to further refine his game. He likely will be up for most or all of next season. The younger 'Canes will push some older players in camp for roster spots, but instead of just what happens in September, the brass will be able to draw from the players stints this season to better gauge what decisions to make. Three Things That Went Wrong 1. Injuries Carolina lost 171 man games, as only Eric and Jordan Staal and Jiri Tlusty played in all 48 contests. Jay Harrison played in 47, missing the finale Saturday at Pittsburgh. Consider, had Jeff Skinner not missed six games, Justin Faulk 10, Joe Corvo eight, Tim Gleason six, and Tuomo Ruutu 31, the Hurricanes would have been a more successful team. Continuity is so important in this game. Then add that Ward was in net just 17 times and the other injuries that afflicted the franchise and its hard to imagine the team not imploding as it did. The Hurricanes were atop the Southeast Division with 25 points when Ward went down, but from that point on went 7-17-3 with only 15 points. 2. D-E-F-E-N-S-E Carolina finished the season ahead of only the Panthers (3.54 goals per game allowed) by surrendering an average of 3.31 goals per outing. Injuries were part of the problem. In addition to the previously noted defensemen, Jamie McBain and Joni Pitkanen missed significant time, too. The group has some nice components in Harrison, Corvo, and Faulk, who will be a regular All-Star perhaps beginning next season. But its not physical enough. The 'Canes were 28th in killing penalties at 77.6 percent, ahead of just Nashville and Florida and in the stretch where they lost 14 of 15 games, the team was outscored 60-24. The offense certainly had its issues during the slide, and theres no doubt not having Ward put the club at a mental disadvantage. 3. Skins Thats how the guys in the room refer to Skinner, the talented 20-year-old who has struggled a bit the last two seasons after a sensational rookie campaign. In Skinners defense, he suffered a concussion Dec. 7, 2011 and missed 18 games. He had 12 goals at the time of the injury and scored only eight more the rest of the season. Skinner had five goals in the first five games of this campaign and was playing as quick and fast as any time in his career and he was at eight goals and seven assists after just 13 games when another concussion sidelined him. Skinner spent just two weeks on the shelf, but still took quite some time to get into a groove, though he scored three goals in the teams final eight contests. A scrapper and not afraid of taking on bigger guys on the ice, Skinner isnt going to change how he plays, nor should he. But he and the organization cant afford any more concussions.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Tough 5 weeks keeps 'Canes outside playoffs again

The Carolina Hurricanes can't seem to figure out how to play well for a full season - even one that's only 48 games long. For the fourth straight year and sixth time in seven seasons, the Hurricanes missed the playoffs. And once again, a serious slump was to blame. An injury-riddled stretch in which they earned only three points in five weeks sent them tumbling from the...

Five Reasons Why the Hurricanes Missed the Playoffs

This season didn't go nearly as well as most Carolina fans thought it would. Instead of competing for a playoff spot, the Canes finished with a bottom-five record in the NHL and the only thing they have to hang onto is that they'll probably get a good building piece in the upcoming NHL Draft. The team was in a good position for awhile but they ended the season going 4-16...

Jared Staal makes NHL debut as Carolina Hurricanes lose final home game 4-3 in overtime to the New York Rangers

 The Carolina Hurricanes lost 4-3 in overtime last night in the final home game of this shortened 2012-2013 National Hockey League season. Jiri Tlusty scored twice, Tuomo Ruutu added the other Hurricanes goal and starting goaltender Dan Ellis made 34 saves as the Hurricanes played well for 60 minutes of regulation but lost after Rangers' captain Ryan Callahan scored 2:55 into...

John Toperzer: Game Night: Jordan Staal returns to Pittsburgh; Neal, Martin back, too

poll by twiigs.com Carolina (19-24-4, 10-10-3 Road) at Pens (35-12, 17-6 Home), Consol, 7:38 pm ET Welcome back Jordan. Thanks for the six great seasons, especially the back-to-back Stanley Cup appearances. We couldn’t have done it without out you. And oh yeah, thank you for turning down the Penguins’ 10-year, $60-million offer last summer. Thank you for...

Game 48 By the Numbers: Hurricanes at Penguins

The 2013 season mercifully came to a close for the Hurricanes last night and they ended things in painful fashion by getting blown out 8-3 by the Pittsburgh Penguins. It's somewhat of an appropriate ending for what has been an excruciating year for the Canes but at the very least, it clinched them a spot in the top-five of the NHL Entry Draft which they will hopefully put to...

Pittsburgh Penguins Gameday 48 - Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes (19-24-4) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (35-12-0) ROOT, FS-CR - 7:30 pm/et Consol Energy Center - Pittsburgh, PA The last game of the regular season. You can almost taste the playoffs. Jordan Staal returns to Pittsburgh for the first time since his trade. Jokinen and Sutter are also facing their old team. There will be approximately 203 Staals...

Matt Karash: Fingers crossed - draft lottery tonight

The next couple days are always rough ones in non-playoff seasons missing out on the couple days of anticipation until it all starts. So tonight at about 8pm, Carolina Hurricanes fans instead get the small consolation prize of watching the draft lottery and winning either the #1, #5 or #6 pick in the 2013 NHL draft. The way it works this time around is that all 14 non-playoff teams...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.