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Great Expectations - What is Realistic for the Canes?

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Today, there is tremendous unrest within the "force" known as the Caniac Nation. Many fans are clamouring for some type of change regarding coaching or player personnel. While Carolina's year-to-date performance has certainly been inconsistent as well as downright frustrating at times, has the team actually performed below general expectations so far this year?

If you were to ask most experts around the league, they probably would answer "no". The truth of the matter is, the Hurricanes are probably right about where most hockey people, (outside Carolina), expected them to be.

How many pundits predicted that the Hurricanes would finish ahead of Washington in the Southeast Division? Not very many.

According to this report polling seven experts at ESPN, not a single one of them chose Carolina to win the Southeast. (One picked Tampa). NBC Sports predicted that the Canes would come in second. USA Today's six experts unanimously picked Washington to win the Division. The listing can go on and on.

Most experts around the league predicted that Carolina would finish second in their division and would be fighting tooth and nail for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Guess where the Canes are today?

Does that mean fans can't expect more? Of course not. Does that mean fans have to be happy with perceived complacency and lack of effort? Absolutely not.

But it could be time for fans to reassess what they expect from this team and re-evaluate how they perceive them. Even though there are a few familiar faces, this team is not the same one that took Stanley Cup. Perhaps the present day Canes should not be looked upon as under-performing champions, they should be looked upon as over-achieving underdogs?

Man to man, they don't match up with Washington, and salary wise, they don't match up with most other teams in the league. According to NHL, the Canes are ranked 21st in the league in salary this season.

Here is a ranking of the top spending teams in the Eastern Conference-

  1. Philadelphia

  2. Washington

  3. Pittsburgh

  4. NY Rangers

  5. Boston

  6. Florida

  7. Montreal

  8. New Jersey

  9. Ottawa

  10. Tampa Bay

  11. Carolina

  12. Buffalo

  13. NY Islanders

  14. Atlanta

  15. Toronto

If you go by the old adage "you get what you pay for", the Canes are actually doing better than they could be. Should Carolina be spending more money? That is a different topic for another day, but keep in mind that this is a small market and ticket prices are among the cheapest in the league. (Tomorrow's subject).

Success or failure is a perception.

There is no doubt that the team is unhappy with their losing record at home and they are as frustrated as anyone with their punchless powerplay. Undoubtedly, some types of improvements and changes are necessary. Team chemistry does not seem quite right. The team leaders have been quiet on and off the ice and that has to change.

Is it time to blow things up? Is it time for a major change at the top, or is Laviolette doing fairly well, considering?

Injuries have certainly played a part in this season's inconsistencies. It would be interesting to see the results if the Hurricanes could ever return a full, healthy lineup. That day might not be far away. Justin Williams is close to returning and the team's other injuries are not long-term.

Perhaps that is what Jim Rutherford is waiting for?