Things have been a bit quiet around here over the weekend, as far as news goes. But behind the scenes, the blog has changed servers once again as we continue in our quest to find the perfect webhost who will provide minimal downtime. Have we finally found "The One"? We'll find out. I apologize to those of you who have been having problems. If anyone continues to have problems, please don't hesitate to contact me.
During the endless, mindless process of copying and moving files, I did have a chance to take a walk-about around the net to look for interesting news. Our friends over at Yahoo Sports have been busy. To begin with, Puck Daddy Blog has a season preview up for the Hurricanes. The article is written in yearbook form and is an interesting and entertaining read.
While I won't take much issue with Greg Wyshynski's loquacious report, I do wonder about his preseason grades. He gives the defense a higher grade than the offense? The coaching staff receives an A while management gets a C+ ?
I think everyone would agree that the defense has several question marks. While it should be younger, quicker, and better at moving the puck than last year's elder statesmen, there are still unknowns. Will they be physical enough, as a group?
The forwards on the otherhand have all proven that they can score. Each of the skaters in the top nine have scored 20 goals or more at some point in their careers. How many other teams can say that? Perhaps I would limit the forwards to a B grade because of health concerns, but I would give the defense a C because it is riddled with question marks.
While Peter Laviolette would be on the top of several other team's head coaching lists, I think it's a stretch to give the Canes coaching staff an A. These guys have missed the playoffs the past two years, haven't they? Mistakes have been made on the ice as well as behind the bench. On the plus side of the ledger, Laviolette was able to keep a depleted lineup filled with several AAA players at the top of the division almost all year, until the last game of the season. I would give him a B.
Bottom line, P-Daddy says that the Canes should make the playoffs if they can stay healthy. We are in agreement there.
Yahoo Sports lesser half, Ross McKeon gives his two cents as well. That's about what it's worth, although surprisingly the "contraction guru" does present a couple of notable observations.
"One interesting behind-the-scenes point to consider in terms of approaching things a new way is Ron Francis’ addition to the staff last fall as director of player development. Since the Hall of Famer has come aboard, the Hurricanes have grown from eight junior and college prospects and half an AHL team to 12 prospects and a full farm club."
I'm not sure if Ron Francis is directly responsible for that change in philosophy, but it is a huge step forward for this franchise. They have desperately needed to increase and develop some depth. McKeon also mentions the same concern that I have about the defense, that it could be "soft".
Bottom line, he picks the Canes to finish third behind the Caps and the Lightning. Yes, the Tampa Bay Lighting. The same team who will regularly be playing Andrew Hutchinson on defense. The same franchise who has pretty much been the joke of the offseason.
Look, I actually do agree that Tampa Bay will be improved over last year, but they have more holes in their defense than McKeon has in his contraction argument. Speaking of holes, has Mike Smith won a Conn Smythe yet?
I didn't think so.