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Season preview: Carolina Hurricanes

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Season preview: Carolina Hurricanes

To get you ready for the 2015-16 season, we will be previewing all 30 NHL in 30 days, division by division. Check the bottom of the page for a schedule of each preview.

Today’s team: Carolina Hurricanes

2014-15 record: 30-41-11, 8th in the Metropolitan

How they finished: Did not make the playoffs

Coach: Bill Peters (2nd year)

Notable additions: G Eddie Lack, D James Wisniewski

Notable subtractions: D Brett Bellemore, RW Patrick Dwyer, RW Alexander Semin, G Anton Khudobin

RELATED: Las Vegas, Quebec City advance in NHL expansion process

Schedule against the Capitals: Sat. Oct. 17 at Washington, Mon. Dec. 21 at Carolina, Thu. Dec. 31 at Carolina, Tue. Mar. 15 at Washington

Outlook: The biggest issue for the Hurricanes last season was their offense as they ranked 27th in the NHL with only 183 goals for the season (2.23 goals per game). Alexander Semin was a huge disappoint and was ultimately bought out by the team. Other than that, Carolina made few moves to address the offense in the offseason other than bringing in James Wisniewski who should help on the power play. That means it falls to Jeff Skinner and Eric Staal to have bounce back years and Victor Rask and Elias Lindholm to continue improving.

Defensively, the Hurricanes may have both their 2015 and 2014 first-round draft picks on the ice. Carolina took Noah Hanifin with the fifth-overall pick in 2015 and considered to be the best defenseman in the draft. Both he and 2014 first-round pick Haydn Fleury will make a push for the NHL this season.

The intrigue doesn't stop at the blue line, however, as Eddie Lack will challenge long-time starter Cam Ward. With both goalies entering the final year of their contracts, they will be competing for more than just playing time.

Whatever the Hurricanes hope to accomplish this season, they will need a better start than they had last year. The season was over as quickly as it began as the Hurricanes failed to win a single game in October, going 0-6-2. It ultimately led to a coaching change as Kirk Muller was replaced by Bill Peters. I don't see the Hurricanes being so quick to oust Peters this season if things start slowly, but a winless month in the NHL does not leave a good impression with management.

Expectations: It's going to be a long year in Carolina. The Hurricanes did nothing to address their dreadful offense other than cross their fingers and hope the same players play better this season. Their best players are underachieving and over the hill, or very young and still developing. It is far more likely that Carolina ends up in the lottery than in the playoffs.

Though the team is going to be bad, they still should be fun to watch as there are a lot of young prospects that could find their way into the lineup once the Hurricanes throw in the towel and that won't take too long.

MORE CAPS: Red Wings to honor Fedorov in home game against Caps

See more team previews:

Pacific Division 
Anaheim Ducks 
Arizona Coyotes 
Calgary Flames 
Edmonton Oilers 
Los Angeles Kings
San Jose Sharks 
Vancouver Canucks

Central Division 
Chicago Blackhawks
Colorado Avalanche
Dallas Stars
Minnesota Wild
Nashville Predators
St. Louis Blues
Winnipeg Jets

Atlantic Division 
Boston Bruins
Buffalo Sabres
Detroit Red Wings
Florida Panthers
Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators
Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division 
Columbus Blue Jackets 8/24 
New Jersey Devils 8/25 
New York Islanders 8/26 
New York Rangers 8/27 
Philadelphia Flyers 8/28 
Pittsburgh Penguins 8/29 
Washington Capitals 8/30

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NHL Power Rankings: A rough week

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Power Rankings: A rough week

The Caps are coming off of one of, if not the worst week of their season. Washington has now lost three of four games and all three of those losses came in devastating fashion.

On Feb. 11, the Caps hosted a scuffling Detroit Red Wings team and saw the Wings build a 4-1 lead in the second period, a period in which the Caps were outshot 17-2. Washington battled back to tie the game, but ultimately lost in overtime. Tuesday in Winnipeg the Caps held a 3-1 lead in the third period, but allowed the Jets to mount a comeback and tie the game with just 15 seconds remaining in regulation before losing in overtime. Then, of course, there was Saturday's 7-1 blowout at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks, a team that had lost eight straight coming into that game.

SEE THIS WEEK'S NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE

To make matters worse, the Pittsburgh Penguins keep on winning and now hold a one-point lead over Washington. So yeah, things were not great.

The bad news is that, with the recent surges of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and even New Jersey, the Caps have to figure things out fast or they could continue to fall in the standings fairly quickly.

The good news is that they still remain in a relatively good position should they rebound. The Penguins do hold a one-point lead in the standings, but the Caps remain very much in the driver's seat of the division with three games in hand.

Four games separate Washington from the Feb. 26 trade deadline. The Caps will play in Buffalo, host Tampa Bay, play in Florida and host Buffalo. Winning three of those four games, especially if they can beat the dominant Lightning, will go a long way towards putting last week in the rearview mirror. Another tough week, however, could force the hand of general manager Brian MacLellan to make an unanticipated move at the trade deadline in order to keep a playoff season from falling apart.

After a week like that, it's no surprise to see Washington fall in this week's NHL Power Rankings. You can see the full rankings here.

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Game 59: Capitals at Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 59: Capitals at Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: KeyBank Center, Buffalo, N.Y.

When: 3:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Sabres will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Sabres game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals (33-18-7) take on the Sabres (17-31-11) Monday, February 19 at 3:00 p.m. ET in Buffalo.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME ON?

The Capitals-Sabres game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 2:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 2:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 6:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 7:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

2:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
2:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
3:00 p.m. — Capitals at Sabres
5:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
6:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
7:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Sabres game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Philipp Grubauer starts with Braden Holtby as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Taylor Chorney

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals-Sabres game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).

CAPITALS-SABRES OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.