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USA Today preview the Southeast Division

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I stoppped reading once they had Tampa Bay as second. What the heck does everyone see in that team? Forward depth, they've got. Defense and goaltending, they don't. Last time I checked, the last two were far more important than the first one.

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I stoppped reading once they had Tampa Bay as second. What the heck does everyone see in that team? Forward depth, they've got. Defense and goaltending, they don't. Last time I checked, the last two were far more important than the first one.

Yeah...just look at us the past two seasons...

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what a bunch of bull. the only downside for the hurricanes is staying healthy, we all know that.

washington barely squeeked into the playoffs last year only to be beaten to by an underpreforming flyers team. this year washington doesnt have a good goalie to carry them as far. on top of that, they have a very weak defense. green? is that the best they can do?

florida is just an abysmal pit of bad hockey. maybe bringing in stiller and mccabe might help but i doubt it will.

atlanta. not enough scoring, (they cant rely on ilya to score all their goals) beyond him they have nothing. also they have no defence. getting schneider will help, but he is getting old.

to me tampa really depends on melrose. on paper the lighting are not all that bad, we will just have to see if melrose can pull them together. letting boyle go will hurt them on the powerplay and they lose a great break out passer.

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Lavi being on the hotseat is definitely a downside seeing that he cant even keep enough guys healthy to solidify lines and develop chemistry between them. If they start slow, he may feel pressured to adapt the style of play rather than let the chemistry develop and the wheels could fall completely off. Regardless, if the team skates hard they will be competitive, if they dont they will lose and he will take the blame.

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Once again an objective, informed, outside source sees the reality. Ward has been a significant part of the problem the last 2 years. I know we are all bored with the statistical arguments, but just about every non-biased assessment of the team shares this obvious conclusion: Ward is a below average NHL starter, yes young with lots of upside and has had some really nice stretches, but on balance, and even with those stretches averaged in, below average NHL starter. Give us an average NHL goalie and we make the playoffs each of the last 2 years, easily.

On the non-goalie front. Middle of the pack is a fair assessment, given the injury history and potential pressure on the coach (and the unknown of this year's Ward). But there is middle because the team is average, or middle because the team has lots of upside and downside and could go either way. That's how I see us. If it all comes together we are capable of vying for the president's cup. If the wheels come off, we could sink even lower.

We gave up the first goal a lot last year (the first 2-3 goals in our preseason losses). That deflates the team, and puts us in a statistical uphill battle. If Cam tightens up just his 1st periods we will make the playoffs.

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I'm not sure what people see in Tampa.. they made so many changes they are a completely unknown commodity.. they could be really good or really bad.

I think Washington will again be pretty good, and Carolina has bolstered a battered roster from last year. Washington and Carolina should finish 1,2 in either order and most likely both make the playoffs.

As far as the questions about Ward... answer this question.. if we need a better goalie so bad.. who is available? Who? Graham? Thibault? Holmqvist? Who are you going to replace him with who is not already an established netminder somewhere else? No one.. thats right... Until we can draft and train our own goalies, as we did with Cam, (read: Leighton and Murphy) there won't be anyone on the free agent market good enough to replace him that we can afford. We gonna trade Eric Staal AND Brinda'amour AND Pitkanen for Marty Brodeur? Not likely.

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As far as the questions about Ward... answer this question.. if we need a better goalie so bad.. who is available? Who? Graham? Thibault? Holmqvist? Who are you going to replace him with who is not already an established netminder somewhere else? No one.. thats right... Until we can draft and train our own goalies, as we did with Cam, (read: Leighton and Murphy) there won't be anyone on the free agent market good enough to replace him that we can afford. We gonna trade Eric Staal AND Brinda'amour AND Pitkanen for Marty Brodeur? Not likely.

No, the team has launched it's ship with Cam Ward. We will sink or float with him this year. If he sinks, Leighton is our back up engine and will get a long look. If he also sinks, then the ship sinks. The coach will go down with the ship (which is why he will go to Leighton quicker than people think if Cam struggles), and the playoffs will be a long shot.

Rutherford has bet the house that either Cam will finally solidify things or Leighton will emerge. That said, Rutherford has insisted over and over that this is Cam's year. That he is right on schedule for his development. And clearly it is too early at the start of this year to bail on Cam. That doesn't change the fact that this is the single biggest question mark and the biggest factor for how this team does, hence our middle of the pack rating.

I'm actually betting on Rutherford's judgement. I think this will be Cam's year. Of course I thought that last year too.

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Many, many hockey insiders respect Rutherford's savvy as a GM and judgement of players. It's actually surprising I hear people say "when JR speaks, people listen...", "Jim Rutherford is a good jusge of talent", "If Jimmy Rutherford can't get a response out of PlayerX, no one can..."

Pretty cool, if you ask me. We could have much worse leadership at the top, but we've got JR. I would also trust JRs approach and believe in the team this year.

No, the team has launched it's ship with Cam Ward. We will sink or float with him this year. If he sinks, Leighton is our back up engine and will get a long look. If he also sinks, then the ship sinks. The coach will go down with the ship (which is why he will go to Leighton quicker than people think if Cam struggles), and the playoffs will be a long shot.

Rutherford has bet the house that either Cam will finally solidify things or Leighton will emerge. That said, Rutherford has insisted over and over that this is Cam's year. That he is right on schedule for his development. And clearly it is too early at the start of this year to bail on Cam. That doesn't change the fact that this is the single biggest question mark and the biggest factor for how this team does, hence our middle of the pack rating.

I'm actually betting on Rutherford's judgement. I think this will be Cam's year. Of course I thought that last year too.

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Hopefully it is Cam's year! Leighton looked great on Sunday and has to be better then JG last year. ESPN MAG also has Capitals as their pick. Guess they totally overlook the importance of a Goalie like USA Today.

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Yeah and lots of publications predicted my Cleveland Browns to make the playoffs! :lol: They won last week, spotting the League 3 games will prove to be genius!

That shows what the so called experts know.

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I think Tampa's changes have impressed people; they see them as being a very offensive club in a defensive-lacking division. I'm even worried about what Tampa will do...yes they really just put a band-aid over themselves but still...the potential to scare is there. Plus, we ALWAYS seem to have trouble with Tampa. So yea...it'll either be boom or bust for them...and I'm worried it could be boom in a big, big way. I think a lot of media sources see that too.

Yeah....they'll win a lot of 8-7 games...

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I like when people predict us to be low in the standings. Flying under the radar is great. I think people are expecting a lot out of Tampa but I really don't seeing them doing much damage. I have a feeling that their "Sign every big name we can" plan is going to backfire.

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I think Tampa's changes have impressed people; they see them as being a very offensive club in a defensive-lacking division. I'm even worried about what Tampa will do...yes they really just put a band-aid over themselves but still...the potential to scare is there. Plus, we ALWAYS seem to have trouble with Tampa. So yea...it'll either be boom or bust for them...and I'm worried it could be boom in a big, big way. I think a lot of media sources see that too.

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Its amazing the amount of Ward bashers there are on this forum. The guy makes highlite reel saves, ya he lets in some soft ones, but most goalies do. He is still young, but his poise in net for his age is outstanding. Look at the 06 cup run, how cool and calm he was, even the broadcasters noticed that. By you saying that we would have made the playoffs with an average goalie the last two years is ridiculous. Defense was an issue, Penalty Kill, even shorthanded goals were an issue, and lots of odd man rushes were given up. Bottom Line is, we have alot of talent on our team, so if we stay healthy, and our defense improves (and on paper it has) then we should be fine. First place this year, and top five in offense. Go Canes!!

Jeff

P.S.

Cant wait for the February 3rd game against vancouver!

Once again an objective, informed, outside source sees the reality. Ward has been a significant part of the problem the last 2 years. I know we are all bored with the statistical arguments, but just about every non-biased assessment of the team shares this obvious conclusion: Ward is a below average NHL starter, yes young with lots of upside and has had some really nice stretches, but on balance, and even with those stretches averaged in, below average NHL starter. Give us an average NHL goalie and we make the playoffs each of the last 2 years, easily.

On the non-goalie front. Middle of the pack is a fair assessment, given the injury history and potential pressure on the coach (and the unknown of this year's Ward). But there is middle because the team is average, or middle because the team has lots of upside and downside and could go either way. That's how I see us. If it all comes together we are capable of vying for the president's cup. If the wheels come off, we could sink even lower.

We gave up the first goal a lot last year (the first 2-3 goals in our preseason losses). That deflates the team, and puts us in a statistical uphill battle. If Cam tightens up just his 1st periods we will make the playoffs.

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I'm hoping for the best but I have a gut feeling (based upon what's transpired in training camp) this team will struggle early and often. If we dig ourselves a big hole early, I think the pressure could result in the wheels coming off for Lavi. I'm not sold on Ward but am definitely not one to jump ship at this point. Let's hope JR knows his stuff and Cam can break out this year. If we ever needed him to steal a few games early, NOW is the time. I really like our backup situation in goal, and that can only help Ward. As for finishing third in the Division, I think that's a fair assessment at THIS TIME. If we can hold our own in October and give the team some time to mesh with HEALTHY players, then all bets are off. The games are still play ON THE ICE. Go Canes.

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Just remember the season is 82 games, if we had pulled it out last year with our dinged-up roster we would have been gone by the 2nd round at most, so do not bail on the team or think the predictions are right also.........as a aside......what was the "Craps thinking letting Ollie go? That will cost them, especially when we face them, Alex can't be on the ice all the time! Do not bail on Lavi just yet, he might just surprise us with another deep cup run.........i hope!

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Say what you want about the moves that Tampa Bay has made, but I would take the defense of Carle, Meszaros, O'Brien, and Ranger over Corvo, Gleason, Pitkanen, and ??? any day of the week. It may not pay immediate dividends, but Tampa Bay will have the best defense in the Southeast division in the next couple of years.

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By you saying that we would have made the playoffs with an average goalie the last two years is ridiculous.

Not seeing it is ridiculous.

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Give us an average NHL goalie and we make the playoffs each of the last 2 years, easily.
Another way to look at it, is give us an 'average' back-up goalie (i.e., one that finished with a .500 record) and we would have made the playoffs the last 2 years. Going forward, Leighton at this point appears to be a nice upgrade over Grahame.

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Hopefully it is Cam's year! Leighton looked great on Sunday and has to be better then JG last year. ESPN MAG also has Capitals as their pick. Guess they totally overlook the importance of a Goalie like USA Today.

I just picked up the 09 NHL yearbook, and they have Cam as the #10 fantasy goalie.

I think Cam will have a good if not great year. Leighton backing him up will give him something he has not had over the past 2 seasons.....rest. That is, if Lavi doesnt try to make Cam an iron man again.

Cam and Leighton will be a tough tandem to beat this year.

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Not seeing it is ridiculous.

Id say that Cam was on average, average or better, it was the defense that was below average consistently and when the forwards stopped skating for that 2 month stretch it was hard to watch. Obviously Cam has to improve but when the front office and everyone else says the defense is the weak link, that needs to be taken into acount when evaluating Cams play and his stats.

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Id say that Cam was on average, average or better, it was the defense that was below average consistently and when the forwards stopped skating for that 2 month stretch it was hard to watch. Obviously Cam has to improve but when the front office and everyone else says the defense is the weak link, that needs to be taken into acount when evaluating Cams play and his stats.
NYMethods, putting it the way you did made me think of the situation this way:

Cam's biggest weakness, I think, as a goaltender is in breakaway situations (and shootouts). Our past defense's biggest weakness (alright, one of them!) was in giving up breakaway chances (I shudder to think how many times Commodore inappropriately pinched in and ZOOM! there went the other team the other way with the puck!).

So, a goalie weak on breakaways and a defense that gave up a lot of them. It was -- pardon the hurricane pun -- a perfect storm!

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