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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.

Unfortunately, sounds similar to our team philosophy.

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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.

I want to agree, but he also sometimes says things IMO to keep people happy about the team. So who knows what he really believes. Example: JR said Rod did not injure his knee during the 5K run because lots of people would be angry about that. A couple weeks later, Chip interviews Rod and Rod says he pushed himself too hard in the run and hurt his knee.

In reference to Cam, JR has said continuously that he thinks our goal tending is up to par. I think its possible that JR knows Cam well enough to realize that if his confidence is shaken, he plays horribly. Barasso has done interviews where he said the main factor in deciding Cams performance is his confidence. My point is that if JR goes around bashing Cam then his confidence will fall and so will his performance. This is all theorizing of course, but I think its a possibility.

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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.

Key words being "in the next couple of years". Right now, their defense is too young to do anything. Sure, they've got the potential to be good. Carle and Ranger are decent defensemen. But they're young, and are bound to make stupid mistakes. The fact that Hutchinson actually has a chance to be part of their defensive pairings doesn't bode well for them either.

Gleason and Pitkanen also have the potential to be good. They're just a little more proven than what Tampa Bay's bringing.

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Tampa could win the division, I dont think too many people want to jump on that bandwagon because teams that bring in that many new players have issues with getting all the players to gel and buy into the system. I also think that if this preview had been released before the williams injury, the Canes would have been picked to finish 2nd.

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We always do better when they don't have us first. I like being under the radar.

True dat!!!!T.B yeah they have forwards but of course no D and no Goalie=no playoffs....As for Washington,If Wardo has a good year there toast too,dont even have to talk about the other 2,who are they again oh ya Florida and atlanta...hahaha...

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In reference to Cam, JR has said continuously that he thinks our goal tending is up to par. I think its possible that JR knows Cam well enough to realize that if his confidence is shaken, he plays horribly. Barasso has done interviews where he said the main factor in deciding Cams performance is his confidence. My point is that if JR goes around bashing Cam then his confidence will fall and so will his performance. This is all theorizing of course, but I think its a possibility.

This is exactly right. JR will never give an honest assessment of Cam, nor should he. If he is struggling and potentially dragging the team down, the last thing he needs is for the GM to throw that burden on him publicly. Even if it got to the point that JR did give up on Cam, he would want to trade him so wouldn't want to devalue him. In general the GM is and should be very slow to criticize players, but especially the starting goalie.

Thanks also for reminding me, Barasso himself admitted in an interview on 99.9 that Cam struggled in the middle of last year. Apparently some board members know more about goalie play than Barasso.

Look, there is no question that our system is hard on the goalie. On top of that we haven't had anything resembling a decent defense in the past couple of years. But you'd have to be drinking some interesting Cam-colored Kool Aide to not see that he has still been well below average on balance.

I buy the "he's young" and still developing. I give JR the benefit of the doubt on the "Cam is right on schedule" comment. I love Cam for his Stanley Cup playoff performance which was stellar and brought us the cup. I have seen stretches from Cam that were incredible (at one point early last year he was #5 in SV% and GAA, WITH THE SAME DEFENSE he had the rest of the year). I still believe Cam has very goodness if not greatness in him.

I also beleive we have to start seeing it this year. If Cam struggles during the first 1/3 of the season we will start to see a lot of Leighton. BUT, Cam started the year on fire last year and finnished the year solid, so there is a very good chance that he will arrive this year. I think his exremely shaky opening performances in preseason are a bit scary for some of us. Still, I beleive. Cam will put it all together this year and we will be great. If not, Leighton looks pretty good.

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Key words being "in the next couple of years". Right now, their defense is too young to do anything. Sure, they've got the potential to be good. Carle and Ranger are decent defensemen. But they're young, and are bound to make stupid mistakes. The fact that Hutchinson actually has a chance to be part of their defensive pairings doesn't bode well for them either.

Gleason and Pitkanen also have the potential to be good. They're just a little more proven than what Tampa Bay's bringing.

He'll most likely be either a bottom-pair defenseman or a healthy extra, which was the exact same role he had in Carolina the year we won the Cup. I would say, at this moment, Carolina's and Tampa Bay's defenses are about equal. The only player I feel completely comfortable about, in terms of what he'll add to the team throughout the course of the year, is Gleason. While I agree that there are still question marks about how Tampa Bay's defense will play; I would say the same question marks exist for players like Corvo, Melichar, and Pitkanen.

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This is exactly right. JR will never give an honest assessment of Cam, nor should he. If he is struggling and potentially dragging the team down, the last thing he needs is for the GM to throw that burden on him publicly. Even if it got to the point that JR did give up on Cam, he would want to trade him so wouldn't want to devalue him. In general the GM is and should be very slow to criticize players, but especially the starting goalie.

Thanks also for reminding me, Barasso himself admitted in an interview on 99.9 that Cam struggled in the middle of last year. Apparently some board members know more about goalie play than Barasso.

Look, there is no question that our system is hard on the goalie. On top of that we haven't had anything resembling a decent defense in the past couple of years. But you'd have to be drinking some interesting Cam-colored Kool Aide to not see that he has still been well below average on balance.

I buy the "he's young" and still developing. I give JR the benefit of the doubt on the "Cam is right on schedule" comment. I love Cam for his Stanley Cup playoff performance which was stellar and brought us the cup. I have seen stretches from Cam that were incredible (at one point early last year he was #5 in SV% and GAA, WITH THE SAME DEFENSE he had the rest of the year). I still believe Cam has very goodness if not greatness in him.

I also beleive we have to start seeing it this year. If Cam struggles during the first 1/3 of the season we will start to see a lot of Leighton. BUT, Cam started the year on fire last year and finnished the year solid, so there is a very good chance that he will arrive this year. I think his exremely shaky opening performances in preseason are a bit scary for some of us. Still, I beleive. Cam will put it all together this year and we will be great. If not, Leighton looks pretty good.

Why is it that we always agree? :D

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I believe Barrasso in regards to Cams play said he lacked focus at certain points but has the potential to be an elite goalie. As far as the lack of focus, I still say a part of this results from the extended stretches of inactivity he sees because of the puck control offense the Canes run and the defensive turnovers that resulted in odd-man rushes and open shots. You keep saying below average, I disagree taking into account the D in front of him. I would also question whether those bad stretches that he had last season that you are factoring into your evaluation coincided with the overall teams bad play.

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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.

I love how the blind overlook this comment everytime it's brought up.

Grahame with his amazing 3.75 GAA and .875 Sv% and 5-7 record defintly had absolutely nothing to do with us missing the playoffs. or at least everyone who replied after you continuing to bash Cam thinks.

Our backup sucked...Gerber had a good backup in his year and was able to play 10 less games that season then Cam had to play this past year. No one ever takes the time to think about that because no one takes the time to investigate what thier complaining about. To me Grahame had a big hand in us missing the playoffs, we couldn't rely on him to rest grahame...guy has an ego. Seriously you got a .875 sv% and you question why your going to the AHL?

Also if you want to dive deeper into it, JR has been putting all his eggs into the offense basket for 3 years. It worked a grand total of once if anyone expected broduer numbers from a kid whose being shelled most nights is out of his/her mind.

So on top of the fact we got all our eggs in the O basket, we got Commodore whom everytime I looked at him he was either being burned or pinching on a play he had no business pinching on. So I have to feel that if we get an offense d-man named pitkanen or corvo who knows when to pinch and how to pinch and when to get the heck back. We stand a better chance at freeing the forwards and maintaining good offensive numbers while not giving up chances in the slot or on breakaways every 30 seconds.

Teams got quality shots on us last year, however all we took was perimeter shots all year because we couldn't cycle... so we lose the puck and now its a breakaway and now Cam gets scored on because of the breakaway but Cam's the last man back so shoot em.

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I love how the blind overlook this comment everytime it's brought up.

Grahame with his amazing 3.75 GAA and .875 Sv% and 5-7 record defintly had absolutely nothing to do with us missing the playoffs. or at least everyone who replied after you continuing to bash Cam thinks.

Our backup sucked...Gerber had a good backup in his year and was able to play 10 less games that season then Cam had to play this past year. No one ever takes the time to think about that because no one takes the time to investigate what thier complaining about. To me Grahame had a big hand in us missing the playoffs, we couldn't rely on him to rest grahame...guy has an ego. Seriously you got a .875 sv% and you question why your going to the AHL?

Also if you want to dive deeper into it, JR has been putting all his eggs into the offense basket for 3 years. It worked a grand total of once if anyone expected broduer numbers from a kid whose being shelled most nights is out of his/her mind.

So on top of the fact we got all our eggs in the O basket, we got Commodore whom everytime I looked at him he was either being burned or pinching on a play he had no business pinching on. So I have to feel that if we get an offense d-man named pitkanen or corvo who knows when to pinch and how to pinch and when to get the heck back. We stand a better chance at freeing the forwards and maintaining good offensive numbers while not giving up chances in the slot or on breakaways every 30 seconds.

Teams got quality shots on us last year, however all we took was perimeter shots all year because we couldn't cycle... so we lose the puck and now its a breakaway and now Cam gets scored on because of the breakaway but Cam's the last man back so shoot em.

thats what I wanted to say without having to type that much, this pretty much sums it up, you can look at all the stats you want and not get a clear explanation without factoring in the fact that Cam was going against point blank shots and odd man rushes half the time because of a sloppy defense and lack of backchecking. So I'll leave it at, hes not great but hes better than average.

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I want to agree, but he also sometimes says things IMO to keep people happy about the team. So who knows what he really believes. Example: JR said Rod did not injure his knee during the 5K run because lots of people would be angry about that. A couple weeks later, Chip interviews Rod and Rod says he pushed himself too hard in the run and hurt his knee.

In reference to Cam, JR has said continuously that he thinks our goal tending is up to par. I think its possible that JR knows Cam well enough to realize that if his confidence is shaken, he plays horribly. Barasso has done interviews where he said the main factor in deciding Cams performance is his confidence. My point is that if JR goes around bashing Cam then his confidence will fall and so will his performance. This is all theorizing of course, but I think its a possibility.

If it took only a short 3 mile run to hurt his knee....it would have eventaully happened some time in the preseason...which could have made it worse than what it is and we could lose him for the first month of the season.

IMO Cam just needs to suck it up and play the way he and we know he can no matter what people are saying. I do not think that JR should be worried about hurting a players feelings because they are not performing as well as they should be. The early goals have got to stop!

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

I agree that staying healthy is a big part. However, all teams have injuries, having the depth to weather the injuries is important as well. The Hurricanes do not have that depth yet.

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?

I disagree here on three accounts, 1) the Flyers underperforming, 2) the good goalie and 3) the weak defense. Though I am a fan of the Caps, so take what I say from that perspective. Here are the stats for 3 NHL goaltenders last season:

28-21-3 2.44 GAA .910 save pct.

37-25-5 2.74 GAA .904 save pct.

25-21-6 2.91 GAA .892 save pct.

One of those is the goalie the Caps have to start this season with.

One is the goalie the Caps had starting the majority of their games last season.

One is the goalie that the Hurricanes had last season and have going in to start this season.

I leave it to you to figure out which is which and which one you would rather have going into this season.

As far as the Caps Defense goes, last year they were very young. 5 of the top 7 defensemen were 25 or under. This year they are still very young, but returning almost the exact same group, with the possible addition of a top 5 draft pick from 2007, thus that group is now a year older, a year more experienced, yet still pretty young. And for a young defensive corps, they were pretty good last season, finnishing right in the middle of the NHL in most categories.

And the Flyers very much overperformed last season, they came into the playoffs on a roll, having to win a lot of games down the stretch to beat out Buffalo, Carolina, Boston and Ottawa for the 6th seed. I didn't think they were even going to make the playoffs with 20 games left to go in the season, much less get the 6th seed. Then they did well in the playoffs, not only against the Caps, but against the Habs as well.

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.

See goalie stats posted above.

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!

Did you watch Kolzig last season? People might think Ward was bad for the Canes last year, but the Caps would have rather had Ward than Kolzig looking at the numbers they both put up. And I could argue that Kolzig had a better defensive corps in front of him than Ward did last season. (See goalie stats above, I will let you figure out which stats belong to which goalie.)

The Hurricanes could definitely make this season interesting. I think with Staal really taking over as a leader of the team, they have a legitimate shot at giving the Caps a run for the money down the stretch. I really think that Staal has the ability to carry a team in him, he just has to excersize that ability.

Florida I think will actually be pretty good, maybe not a playoff team, but they have a solid defense and the best goalie in the southeast. Goals against them are going to be hard to come by.

Atlanta has issues. That is all I have to say about that.

Tampa - it is hard to say what they will be. I think Melrose is going to find out things are a bit different from the last time he coached, whether he can adjust and the players can adjust to him is going to be critical for them. If they make the playoffs, I think it will be as the 8th seed.

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I love how the blind overlook this comment everytime it's brought up.

Grahame with his amazing 3.75 GAA and .875 Sv% and 5-7 record defintly had absolutely nothing to do with us missing the playoffs. or at least everyone who replied after you continuing to bash Cam thinks.

Our backup sucked...Gerber had a good backup in his year and was able to play 10 less games that season then Cam had to play this past year. No one ever takes the time to think about that because no one takes the time to investigate what thier complaining about. To me Grahame had a big hand in us missing the playoffs, we couldn't rely on him to rest grahame...guy has an ego. Seriously you got a .875 sv% and you question why your going to the AHL?

Also if you want to dive deeper into it, JR has been putting all his eggs into the offense basket for 3 years. It worked a grand total of once if anyone expected broduer numbers from a kid whose being shelled most nights is out of his/her mind.

So on top of the fact we got all our eggs in the O basket, we got Commodore whom everytime I looked at him he was either being burned or pinching on a play he had no business pinching on. So I have to feel that if we get an offense d-man named pitkanen or corvo who knows when to pinch and how to pinch and when to get the heck back. We stand a better chance at freeing the forwards and maintaining good offensive numbers while not giving up chances in the slot or on breakaways every 30 seconds.

Teams got quality shots on us last year, however all we took was perimeter shots all year because we couldn't cycle... so we lose the puck and now its a breakaway and now Cam gets scored on because of the breakaway but Cam's the last man back so shoot em.

It was his fault we didnt score more goals right? This guy is having a good season and is still getting hammered here. :blink:

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Key words being "in the next couple of years". Right now, their defense is too young to do anything. Sure, they've got the potential to be good. Carle and Ranger are decent defensemen. But they're young, and are bound to make stupid mistakes. The fact that Hutchinson actually has a chance to be part of their defensive pairings doesn't bode well for them either.

Gleason and Pitkanen also have the potential to be good. They're just a little more proven than what Tampa Bay's bringing.

Ranger, O'Brien, and Meszaros are already good. Carle is close.

That's four solid guys, and they've got room to grow. That's a helluva lot more than we can say we have, for right now at least. I say we have the edge in goaltending against Tampa, and then that's it.

No wonder we're being picked to finish third in the division.

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It was his fault we didnt score more goals right? This guy is having a good season and is still getting hammered here. :blink:

....what are you talking about. Who can possibly be having a good season before the season has started?

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I'm glad we aren't picked first or second because there is less pressure. It is also good bulletin board material to further motivate our Canes. We can't control injuries but if they get after it every night and skate like we know they can we will do well. I can't wait til opening night!!!! Go Canes!!!!

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It doesn't matter where the Canes are picked--it's where they finish. The true rankings of the teams comes when you see who is on the ice for your opponants. If the other team starts the healthy scratch and the back up goalie, well you know where you really rank.

As for Cam, he had stretches of being a very good goalie last year, but, in general, he is only as good as the team in front of him. He doesn't really steal a lot of games and he doesn't really drop many games. But when the team plays flat, he generally plays flat. But what's the alternative? Start Leighton every night? a goalie something like 6 other teams didn't think was worthy? Make a trade for someone who may or may not fit into the system? I don't know the answer, but JR better before he acts like some on the board want him to.

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Why is Laviolette on the hot seat? I mean granted we finished a couple of points out of a playoff spot last year but, I don't think the hot seat is necessarily a fair thing.

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Why is Laviolette on the hot seat? I mean granted we finished a couple of points out of a playoff spot last year but, I don't think the hot seat is necessarily a fair thing.

2 seasons out of playoffs, and 2 key choke points during both those seasons. You kinda gotta look at the coach for answers which at one point last year he really didn't have one.

my only reason for not putting him in the hot seat, is can we seriously find a better coach? He's a top 10 coach easily and it'd be stupid to toss him.

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2 seasons out of playoffs, and 2 key choke points during both those seasons. You kinda gotta look at the coach for answers which at one point last year he really didn't have one.

my only reason for not putting him in the hot seat, is can we seriously find a better coach? He's a top 10 coach easily and it'd be stupid to toss him.

touche....i agree, there's no reason to really let him go, he's one of the best in the league now and i think we have our team in a good place and maybe we won't have any key injuries like last season.

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http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/allan_muir/10/02/southeast.preview/index.html' target="_blank">http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writ...view/index.html[/post]

Only big-time writer I've seen that actually picks us for the division. Really like his assessment though of us, and all the teams in general.

Yes, I am biased lol. Muir is one of my favorite writers...still I like that he picked us!!!

Pretty fair assessment but "ouch" on his prediction for Samsonov. C'mon Sergei, silence the critics.

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