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NHL Season Preview: Carolina Hurricanes

Remember at the end of last season, when Carolina needed to win just two of their final four games (two of which were against the worst team in the League) to make the playoffs? And when they only needed to beat the lowly Florida Panthers, at home no less, to get in? Remember when you were with the Beatles and you were supposed to be dead, and there were all these clues, like you play some song backwards and it'd say, like "Paul is Dead" and everybody thought you were dead and, um, that was a hoax right? Wait, what?

Anyway, my 'Canes preview is up over at FanHouse, which means it's time to look back at my effort from last year.

Hit:
Where They'll Finish: Carolina could finish anywhere in the Southeast Division, and really just about anywhere in the Eastern Conference -- it all depends on how healthy they can stay and how well Cam Ward can play (no pressure, kid!). But even healthy, the defense is among the Conference's worst, and for that reason, while the 'Canes will win a number of high-scoring affairs, they won't win enough games overall to make the playoffs.
The Hurricanes were decimated by injuries last season, but still scored the fifth-most goals in the League. Ultimately, it was their defense (or lack thereof - they were 25th in the League in goals against) that secured them an early tee time last April.

Miss:
Andrew Ladd and should get his first [25-goal] season sooner rather than later.
Maybe this will be Ladd's year, as he only found the net 14 times in 2007-08.

So are you feelin' this year's 'Canes or has the injury to Justin Williams derailed their season before it even started? Is Cam Ward a legitimate number one NHL netminder? Is Eric Staal worth the big bucks he just got? Most importantly... are the 'Canes a threat to win the Southeast Division?