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Southeast breakdown: Carolina Hurricanes

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Southeast breakdown: Carolina Hurricanes

For the next three weeks CSNWashington.com will take a team-by-team look at the three divisions in the Eastern Conference. Every weekday well profile a new team and break down the changes they made in the offseason.

This week: Southeast Division. Today: Carolina Hurricanes.

CAROLINA HURRICANES

20011-12 Record: 33-33-16, 82 points

Where they finished: 5th in the Southeast; 12th in the East; 23rd in NHL

Coach: Kirk Muller

Key Additions: C Jordan Staal, LWRW Alex Semin, D Joe Corvo, D Marc-Andre Gragnani

Key Departures: C Brandon Sutter, D Bryan Allen, D Derek Joslin, D Brian Dumoulin

Projected Lineup
Forwards
Alexander Semin - Eric Staal - Chad LaRose
Jussi Jokinen - Jordan Staal - Jeff Skinner
Zac Dalpe - Tuomo Ruutu - Jiri Tlusty
Andreas Nodl - Tim Brent - Patrick Dwyer
Anthony Stewart

DefensemenJoni Pitkanen - Jamie McBain
Tim Gleason - Justin Faulk
Jay Harrison - Joe Corvo
Marc-Andre Gragnani

GoaltendersCam Ward
Justin Peters

Our take: It took the better part of two months, but Kirk Muller had the Hurricanes playing playoff caliber hockey down the stretch. The Canes went 19-10-9 after the NHL All-Star break and a full season under Muller should get them back into the playoff hunt. The Canes added some integral pieces up front with former Penguins center Jordan Staal and former Caps winger Alex Semin and both should get captain Eric Staal back to being a 30-goal scorer, especially if the three forwards play on the same line. The Canes remain strong in goal with Cam Ward, but backup Brian Boucher is expected to be sidelined until January with shoulder surgery, making room for Justin Peters as Wards backup. If there is a significant weakness in Carolina its on defense, where Joe Corvo, 35, joins a group that includes Joni Pitkanen, Jamie McBain, Tim Gleason and Justin Faulk.

Offseason grade: A

Will they make the playoffs in 2013? Yes.

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With Caps in Vancouver, Jay Beagle receives his ring

With Caps in Vancouver, Jay Beagle receives his ring

On June 7 in Las Vegas, Jay Beagle was in a Capitals uniform as they hoisted their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Three weeks later, the 33-year-old signed a four-year, $12-million contract with the Vancouver Canucks

The Capitals begin a four-game, Canadian road trip this evening in Vancouver. Beagle did not attend the Capitals ring ceremony at the Palm three weeks ago so the Caps awarded Beagle with his ring today.

Each ring contains 252 diamonds, 35 rubies and one sapphire. Beagle was impressed but isn't sure how much use the ring will get.

“Not sure I’ll wear it again. It’s like wearing my truck.”

Jay Beagle will not be on the ice tonight against his former team. Beagle broke his forearm when he blocked a shot against the Florida Panthers on October 13th. Beagle is expected to be sidelined for another five weeks.

Despite the injury, it has still been a great week for Beagle. 

A shiny, new ring AND a baby girl. Not too shabby.

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4 things to watch in Capitals at Canucks

4 things to watch in Capitals at Canucks

It’s going to be a late night. The Caps are in Vancouver to take on the Canucks (10 p.m., NBC Sports Washington Plus) for the first of a four-game swing through Canada. Grab your coffee, here are four things you need to watch.

Offensive firepower

Washington enters Monday’s game with the top offense in the NHL with 4.14 goals per game. Vancouver had one of the worst defenses in the league last year. They have looked much improved at the start of this season, but they are still giving up 3.00 goals per game. Washington’s high-powered superstars should be able to take advantage and get some points on the board.

Adjusted lines

The fact that Washington has the top offense in the NHL is surprising considering how much their depth forwards have struggled to produce. Prior to Friday’s game against the Florida Panthers, the Caps had gotten only two goals from the bottom six and both had come in the season-opener. After seeing his team go down 4-1 against Florida, head coach Todd Reirden shuffled up the lines and it seemed to create a spark for the offense.

Reirden indicated Sunday he will stick with those lines and he kept them together for Monday’s morning skate:

Alex Ovechkin – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Devante Smith-Pelly
Chandler Stephenson – Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana – Lars Eller – Brett Connolly
Dmitrij Jaskin – Nic Dowd – Andre Burakovsky

Vrana, Connolly and Smith-Pelly all scored after the change. Per the Caps’ PR team, the third line of Vrana, Eller and Connolly produced two goals, eight shot attempts and allowed just three shot attempts in over six minutes of five-on-five play.

Special teams

In addition to having the top offense in the NHL, the Caps also boast the top power play. With the extra man, the Caps are producing on 38.5-percent of their opportunities. That is most likely not a sustainable number, but it does show the power play is as good as ever.

The Canucks come into this game ranked eighth on the penalty kill at 83.9-percent and they will be the latest team to try and slow down a power play that is really starting to click with John Carlson seemingly developing into one of the top blue liners in the NHL.

Remember me?

Vancouver’s star rookie Elias Pettersson is still in concussion protocol and will not play in Monday’s game, but there is another talented youngster who will the Caps will need to watch out for in Brock Boeser.

Boeser was in a dead heat with New York Islanders forward Matt Barzal for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year last season before an injury forced him to miss the last month of the season.

In two career games against Washington, Boeser has recorded three assists. He has had a bit of a slower start to the season with five points thus far, but he is a dynamic talent who the Caps’ defense will have to account for.

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