2009 preview: Carolina Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes is a team that shouldn’t sneak up on anyone, but will probably still catch a lot of fans off-guard. They don’t get a lot of media attention, and despite some decent playoff success the past five years, a lot of people don’t believe they are for real. Look for a lot of angry fans this year as they wonder “How did our team lose to the Hurricanes?”

Story of the season: The Hurricanes shocked the hockey world last spring when they made it to the playoff semifinals. After knocking out the Devils and Bruins in seven-game series, they ran out of gas against the eventual Cup champion Penguins. Can the Hurricanes repeat that feat this year?

Former Habs: Tom Kostopoulos, Michael Leighton, Sergei Samsonov

Blog to follow: Red and Black Hockey

TV commercial break

Pool Picks: Erik Cole has played his best hockey in Carolina. Last year, he was traded to the Oilers a few months into the season, but never did well there (27 points in 63 games). Look for him to rebound this season into the 60 point range. Stay away from:Rod Brind’Amour. For me, the cutoff for whether to choose a player is if he can be expected to score 50 points this upcoming season. Brind’Amour still managed to score 51 points last year, but I think he’ll fall down to the low 40s or high 30s this season as more young guys are expected to shoulder the offensive load.

Award nominees: Cam Ward for the Vezina trophy

Expected Finish: Second in the southeast, seventh in the East

Cheerleader: The Hurricanes have a cheerleading squad called the Storm Squad.

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