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Halloween

Happy Halloween everyone! Every year the Hurricanes and their spouses have a party to celebrate the holiday. From past reports, there have been some pretty wild and crazy costumes! Last year for instance Andrew Hutchinson dressed up like a Chicken and Kevyn Adams dressed like a woman. During the game Saturday night, the "ask the Canes" segment was about this year's possible Halloween costumes. Cory Stillman's wife said he would go as Richard Simmons while Ray Whitney's wife wanted him to go as Steve Yzerman. Let's see how those suggestions would work out as well as a few others we think would work. I've created a picture page over in my "Extras" section. Who can match up the pictures? How about some more suggestions?

Halloween pics?

The NHLPA site had a great article and interview with Eric Staal recently. Here is a copy!

NO STAAL-ING CAROLINA’S DRIVE FOR A SECOND CUP

"It's going to be a lot more of a challenge this year. Whenever you win the championship, you're going to be hunted after the next year, and our team is no different. I think our team is excited for the challenge.” â€" Eric Staal

After enduring the grind of a 107-game season, you would forgive Eric Staal if he were mentally and physically drained. But that's not the case at all.

In his second National Hockey League year, Staal, just 21, managed to rack up some eye-catching offensive numbers, including 45 goals and 100 points.

Perhaps more impressive though, was his post-season performance, one that saw the Thunder Bay, Ontario native net 28 points in 25 games, becoming the second-youngest player to lead the playoff scoring race.

Staal and his Carolina Hurricanes teammates capped their year off in style, defeating the upstart Edmonton Oilers in seven games to give the franchise their first Stanley Cup championship.

"It is a long year," admitted Staal, who was the second overall selection in the 2003 Entry Draft. "I think it's something you learn as a process…you kind of know what to expect and it makes it easier the next time around.

"Last year, it was easy for me because we had such a great group of guys that, when you went to the rink, you wanted to be there. It was exciting. It was fun, we were winning and all of those things help make it go a lot quicker. It was a long year, but it didn't really feel like 107 games. It felt like it went by so fast. That helps when you've got a great team to be around."

It also helps your team's fortunes when you have a multi-dimensional player like Staal in the lineup.

The 6'3", 205-pound forward enjoyed a breakout year in 2005-06, more than tripling his point total of 31 from 2003-04, his rookie NHL campaign.

Staal, who was brilliant on the power-play, scoring 19 markers when the 'Canes were on the man advantage, was equally effective when Carolina were the ones at a disadvantage, posting four short-handed tallies as well.

Whether or not they can repeat this season is up for debate, but Staal, whose additional year of experience should make him even more valuable than he was last year, likes what he sees in his team.

"I like our group again," said the former Peterborough Petes standout. "We have a great group of young players and some great guys that have been around a long time that can help us out. You know, we feel confident again in our team and in our own room. Doesn't really matter what anyone else has to say, same as last year. We have our own inner-confidence and we want to continue to get better as the year starts."

Although the 'Canes fell to the Sabres 3-2 in a shootout to launch their season, Staal showed he hasn't lost a beat, netting Carolina's first goal of 2006-07, on the night the team raised the Stanley Cup banner.

While Eric is the one currently making life miserable for NHL goaltenders, it won't be long before there are more Staals taking aim at the opposition.

And what a brother act it will be.

Marc, the 12th overall selection of the New York Rangers in 2005, is a promising defenceman. Jordan, taken second overall by Pittsburgh in 2006, is a blue-chip forward and winger Jared was drafted 11th overall in the Ontario Hockey League this year by the Sudbury Wolves.

The Staals have an ideal role model in brother, Eric.

"They are kind of on their own path," said Eric, of his siblings. "I was the first one that went through everything and that gives them something to see and know what to expect a little bit more. But at the same time, it's all them doing it on their own, and that's the biggest thing that they need to figure out."

One thing Staal figured out long before the 2006-07 season started was what to expect from the opposition.

Trying to repeat as Cup champions, is, as Staal sees it, anything but a given.

"It's going to be a lot more of a challenge this year. Whenever you win the championship, you're going to be hunted after the next year, and our team is no different. I think our team is excited for the challenge. We've got a lot of good leaders in our room, Rod Brind'Amour and the older guys will make sure that our guys are ready to play, and compete for another Stanley Cup."

Even if it means playing another 107 games?

"I would like to have a short summer every year," said Staal. "It is a quick turnaround, but I think we were away for long enough to be refreshed and I'm sure we will be ready this year."

Staal Interview

Tomorrow we will preview the big game in Atlanta tomorrow night. Have fun tonight!

The Dave Matthews Band