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Mike Maniscalco

Copy of 13 things to look for with the Canes in 2013

Posted January 20, 2013

The lockout lasted 113 days, the season starts in 2013 so I’ll put my triskaidekaphobia aside and take a look at the 13 things Carolina Hurricanes fans should keep an eye on this year.

13-Zach Boychuk and Zac Dalpe: This is a big year for both players. Boychuk and Dalpe were selected in the first and second rounds of the 2008 draft. Boychuk has seen time with Eric Staal and Alex Semin in the shortened training camp after being highly productive in the AHL this season, while Dalpe has played right wing on a line with Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner. Their ability to stay on those lines will provide multiple options for head coach Kirk Muller’s roster.

12-Eric Staal: The Hurricanes captain is in his ninth season and third full season wearing the C, expectations have never been higher. With the addition of Alex Semin on his wing, the center will be counted on putting up elite numbers. And I’m just putting this out there, Staal’s career year of 45 goals and 55 assists came after the 04-05 lockout.

11-Jordan Staal: Yes we know he is Eric’s younger brother, but Jordan has a full resume built on solid play in Pittsburgh where he was called on to be the third line center and shut down the opposition. He has never totaled more than 50 points in a season, but last year with Sidney Crosby out, he showed he could handle the top six work load. The Canes are banking on him being ready to step out of the shadows full time and become a top center in the league.

10-Jeff Skinner’s production: After suffering a concussion that cost Skinner time and goals last season, people are wondering if his rookie season is the real deal or the frustration of last season is his career trend. Paired with Jordan Staal in camp, the two have developed some chemistry and it is what a lot of Canes fans have called for, Skinner playing on a line with a guy named Staal. The former all-star didn’t sneak up on teams like his rookie season and was a target most nights by Canes opponents which would take him off his game. There shouldn’t be the pressure to repeat a great season, instead the drive to get back to one.

9-The goalie rotation: With a schedule that has teams playing almost every other night, how will head coach Kirk Muller use Cam Ward and Dan Ellis? Ward has been a workhorse, but how will the lockout impact goalies that didn’t play early on? Ellis played in Charlotte and his play there earned him the understudy job in Carolina, but with t48 games in four months, he will probably see more work than Ward’s back-ups of the past. The hot hand theory could also play a factor. Whichever goalie gets on a roll will more than likely get starts until it ends.

8-Overtime: The Canes were 4 and 16 in games that went to OT or a shootout last season, the team gave away 16 extra points. Carolina would have had 94 points and made the playoffs by going 10-10 in bonus hockey. With no cross conference play this year giving away the extra point will undoubtedly cost a playoff spot.

7-Offense from the defense: The Hurricanes scored 39 goals from the blue line last year, Jay Harrison tallied a career high nine and Joe Corvo, who has enjoyed his most successful campaigns in the NHL in Raleigh, has returned. If the D can provide anything close to that kind of scoring punch in a shortened year, it is a weapon that can be the difference on nights when the forwards don’t have it.

6-Mistakes: They are going to happen from every team, even from world class players. With only a week to get back into game form without exhibitions it is going to lead to some sloppy play. Turnovers, players out of position, slow passes, metal mistakes and lack of chemistry will be on display early. Limiting the errors in the first quarter of the season can lead to a winning streak, and in the 94-95 season the teams that started strong finished in the top eight.

5-Alex Semin putting on a different red sweater: The player who had torched the Canes in his career with Washington is now expected to return the favor. Semin is the offensive force that Carolina has been looking to match-up with Staal. Playing on a one year contract and with just 48 games, he has a lot to play for. If Semin can come close to his typical statistical year, expect Eric Staal and the team’s points to increase.

4-Special teams: The Canes were 20th on the power play and 22nd on the penalty kill last season. With the additions of Jordan Staal, Semin and Corvo, it is reasonable to think that the power play production will increase. The team also saw a jump under Muller in both categories and with a quasi-training camp for the head coach, if the team can improve to be in the top half of the league in those categories a few more wins might fall into place.

3-Chad LaRose/Jussi Jokinen/Jiri Tlusty: This line has come together and would be listed as the “third line”, a label that Kirk Muller does not want to use with this group. With the Staals centering the top two lines and drawing the majority of the opposition’s attention, that line could give the Canes an advantage on the score sheet. LaRose has been a ball of energy the entire camp and the veteran could be primed for a big year. Tlusty played in his native Czech Republic during the lockout and starred on a line with Jaromir Jagr and Tomas Plekanec, he is healthy and has top six talent. Tlusty could be ready to take a big step forward. Jokinen who has been a jack-of-all-trades, playing all over and can excel at center. The ability to roll three lines and limit players minutes will pay off down the road.

2-Injuries: It is part of the game even in an 82 game season, but now there is no time to wait for players to recover. How teams manage losing a player for an extended amount of time could be the difference between playoffs or a very short year. The Canes depth with players in Charlotte like Tim Wallace and Brett Sutter might have to come into play.

1-The playoff drought to end: Carolina last qualified for the chance to play for the Stanley Cup in 2008-09. This is the most talented offensive team the Canes have had since that run.
 

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CAR 17
CLE 13
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
CAR
2nd
TOR 54
NYK 43
 
4:30pm Today
CLE
MEM
6:00pm Tonight
MIA
BOS
6:00pm Tonight
BRK
DET
6:00pm Tonight
SAC
LAL
6:00pm Tonight
ORL
PHI
6:00pm Tonight
WAS
PHO
7:00pm Tonight
MIN
IND
7:00pm Tonight
OKC
NOP
Final
UVA 76
HARV 27
Final
BGU 68
FERST 82
 
Final
ARMY 72
MAINE 69
 
Final
QUIN 60
ORST 52
Final
CLST 69
USF 65
 
Final
CARK 55
CCAR 72
 
Final
UWGB 66
ARKLR 46
 
Final
RAD 74
CORN 61
 
Final
UNT 62
CREI 58
 
Final
CAN 67
HC 48
 
Final
USB 67
GHND 52
 
Final
OKST 64
MD 73
Final
WINT 100
REIN 72
 
Final
UGST 68
SMISS 55
Final
NEOM 77
TXPA 72
 
Final
STLU 58
VERM 55
 
Final
UNCA 62
WCU 66
 
Final
EVAN 81
ALAST 63
 
Final
HART 82
FIU 69
 
Final
VALPO 82
GOSHEN 55
 
2nd
LIP 46
PEAY 40
 
2nd
DEN 31
BRY 33
 
2nd
MONT 52
SD 44
 
2nd
MTST 44
TENST 32
 
2nd
SAMF 37
LAMON 30
 
Half
SCAR 35
COKR 23
 
1st
HAMP 19
NARZ 14
 
1st
SDU 26
SDCHR 8
 
1st
BC 26
USC 24
 
4:30pm Today
NICST
TROY
 
4:30pm Today
BRAD
UCI
 
6:00pm Tonight
UGA
SHU
6:30pm Tonight
ALA
APP
7:00pm Tonight
KSU
NDST
 
7:00pm Tonight
WASU
SJST
9:00pm Tonight
UTEP
ALCOR
 
10:00pm Tonight
SEAT
SACST
 
6:00pm Tonight
DET
COL
6:00pm Tonight
EDM
DAL
7:00pm Tonight
BOS
BUF
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
CAR
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
TOR
9:00pm Tonight
WIN
PHI
Final
NOS 14
ATL 30
 
4th
HOU 25
BAL 13
 
Final
CAR 17
CLE 13
 
Final
CHI 14
DET 20
Final
TAM 3
GBP 20
 
Final
PIT 20
KAN 12
 
4th
MIA 35
MIN 35
 
Final
NYJ 16
NEP 17
 
1st
STL 3
NYG 10
 
1st
OAK 0
BUF 0
 
1st
DAL 0
IND 0
 
8:30pm Tonight
ARI
SEA