Eric Staal

Will Carolina go from worst to first in Southeast Division?


The Hurricanes haven’t won the Southeast Division since their Stanley Cup-winning 2005-06 campaign and they finished in the division’s basement last season.

Still, after adding Jordan Staal, Alexander Semin, and Joe Corvo over the summer, they can’t be ruled out as a contender for the division title.

Last season they lacked offensive depth beyond Eric Staal, but that was partially due to Jeff Skinner’s concussion-shortened season and the fact that Joni Pitkanen was limited to just 30 games.

This time around, the Hurricanes could realistically enter the season with a top line that features the Staal brothers and Semin. That would set up a second line that will likely include some combination of Skinner, Jussi Jokinen, Tuomo Ruutu, and Jiri Tlusty. All-in-all, that looks pretty good.

Cam Ward will, of course, be their starting goaltender again and while he didn’t put up ideal numbers last season, he did get significantly better in the second half of 2011-12. He’s certainly capable of leading a strong team to the promised land.

Their defense is a bit more of a question mark, but a healthy Pitkanen would certainly help.

There are other x-factors too, not the least of which is Semin, who could be anything from the team’s scoring leader to a decent secondary scorer. However, they are a deeper team than they were last season and that will certainly help.

It’s also worth noting that they aren’t exactly the only club with potential issues within their division. The Southeast Division is full of teams that have both promise and plenty of unanswered questions entering the 2012-13. That’s why it’s looking like such a wide open race, but if nothing else, the Carolina Hurricanes have put them in a much better position this summer.


Poll: Who will win the Southeast Division?

Welcome back, Babs: Red Wings chase Bernier

Mike Babcock
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Mike Babcock admitted that there might be a painful transformation as he tries to fix the Toronto Maple Leafs.

His old friends made that abundantly, painfully clear on Friday.

As of this writing, the Detroit Red Wings are up 4-0 on the Buds. Justin Abdelkader just completed a hat trick with James Reimer in net, so the subplot isn’t just about Jonathan Bernier having another tough start.

The big story might just be Detroit’s varied new line of Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin (who scored his first career goal) and Henrik Zetterberg. At the moment, they’ve combined for seven points.

This post will be updated if Detroit’s tribute video to Babcock surfaces.

Really, though, this beating has been about as ugly as this blanket so far.

Blue Jackets’ Wennberg done for night with upper-body injury

Alexander Wennberg, Jay Bouwmeester
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It wouldn’t be a regular season game without a Columbus Blue Jackets injury, right?

OK, the Blue Jackets hope that 2015-16 looks different from the medically challenged mess of last season, but at least one player is banged up tonight.

Alexander Wennberg suffered an upper-body injury and won’t return on Friday, as the team noted.

There’s no word yet regarding how serious the issue might be. It looks like he might have suffered an injury thanks to a Chris Kreider check:

Naturally, the Blue Jackets must hope that this doesn’t begin another trend.