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Clicks and Clippings: Eight days till Lift-off Edition

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Tonight the Carolina Hurricanes are on the road in Nashville playing the Predators for their second pre-season game of the year. Tomorrow night they're back in Raleigh to host the same Predators (or the same club - might be a whole new line-up), and Saturday they're off to Atlanta to take on whomever the Thrashers look to dress. By Sunday, expect the Hurricanes roster to be a lot smaller than the current 44, as the Charlotte Checkers start camp Monday. A week from tomorrow, the remaining 23 or so will board a plane to St Petersburg, Russia. Hopefully there in Russia, they will find a moment to catch their collective breath, because it's not happening between now and next Friday.

In that context, I've got a few Hurricanes' stories and links popping up the last couple days that might fill your evening while we listen to the Hurricanes in Nashville as relayed by the one-and-only Chuck Kaiton, and perhaps some insight will be shared by John Forslund, who made the trip as well.

Leading off with the mothership of hockey websites as was previewing the Hurricanes today with a slew of new stories:

Improved defense, healthy Cam Ward have Hurricanes hopeful  With an improved defense and a healthy Cam Ward in goal, the Carolina Hurricanes are taking aim at a return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Hurricanes begin life without Brind'Amour - 2010-2011 Season Preview For the first time in a decade, the Carolina Hurricanes will enter play without the comforting presence of veteran center Rod Brind'Amour.

Staal's focus is helping 'Canes return to playoffs - 2010-2011 Season Preview Eric Staal isn't worried about starting his first season as Carolina's captain. He's more concerned with helping the 'Canes return to the playoffs.

A bunch more after the jump on the new, the old, some former and some future Hurricanes making news.

More previews and stories from across the NHL interwebz:

The Hockey News: Top Shelf:  Average teams create Eastern Conference intrigue There's clutter in the East with a few teams looking like they could make the post-season, or just as easily hit rock bottom.

Start to Finn-ish with Rosen blog - 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere Dan Rosen has you covered from Helsinki, Finland as the Hurricanes and Wild take part in the 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere series.

*** UPDATE: Video from Staal is not learning Finnish before the trip, but he is looking forward to seeing "Ruutu the Superstar"


Eric Staal talks about the upcoming season prep for Helsinki



Local coverage

For At Least A Night, Patrick O'Sullivan Back On Top - From The Rink by Cory Lavalette For at least one night, Patrick O`Sullivan's problems — on and off the ice — were washed away by his dazzling skills.

Babchuk's Stock Rising -  by Dave Droschak It took less than 10 minutes into the first preseason game for it occur to me who local fans should really want to see during the 2011 All-Star Weekend at the RBC Center. 

Canes look for goals - "I think we legitimately have six guys who can score 20 or more goals this year," Erik Cole said. "I think we have a couple of guys on the back end who can push for 20 given their skill level and the amount of penalties we draw as a team."


Tuesday was Jeff Skinner Day


This was my favorite story: The Kitchener - Jeff Skinner and the $2.7M ‘light breakfast’ Meanwhile, at the Aud, the Rangers were elated for Skinner and his family. "I’m really, really proud of Jeff," Rangers coach-GM Steve Spott said.'s Bob McKenzie: Skinner will get a chance with Hurricanes It's a mug's game trying to figure out which 18 or 19 year old kids fresh out of junior hockey will have what it takes to step into the NHL and play well or even regularly, but Jeff Skinner is most certainly going to get that chance with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Pro contract something else Skinner can smile about - Jeff Skinner has fun on the ice, and the Canes have so enjoyed watching him so far, they've signed their first-round pick to an entry-level contract.

Plus these from the Hurricanes: Skinner Signs in Busy Day - Tracking the Storm (with video from the presser) and from the N&O: Canes Now - Skinner signs contract 

Something new that needs to be included among Skinner's junior accomplishments: Frontenacs' Erik Gudbranson Named OHL Scholastic Player Of The Year - OurSports Central Jeff Skinner of the Kitchener Rangers is the runner-up for the award carrying an 80% academic average while scoring 50 goals and 40 assists for 90 points in just his second OHL season.


Speaking of youngsters


Changing of the guard: Time is right for Blues, Hurricanes, Stars - Sporting News from Craig Custrance: Staal and the Carolina core have learned from some of the best. Now they’re getting the chance to mature and leave their own mark on the franchise.

Apropos to the "Go Young" motif: Why youth rules NHL - Video - A collection of the NHL's best talk about why young players are flourishing in the league. 



Sid the Kid is all grown up - The Globe and Mail Crosby moving out of Chez Lemieux and into his own digs. (Anyone else thinking Brind`Amour's guest house might be a nice Hurricanes' launching pad for young Jeff Skinner - if/when?)

Mississauga Article: Shugg could join exclusive club Justin Shugg has an opportunity to join a select group of players this year...The 18-year-old native of Niagara Falls, who won Memorial Cups the last two years with the Windsor Spitfires, could become only the second junior player to ever win the trophy three years in a row and join only four others to ever win the national junior hockey title three times.


Looking back


Wild's Matt Cullen ... welcome home | Including video, a lengthy feature on Minnesota native Matt Cullen's return to his roots as he begins his first season with the Minnesota Wild.

San Jose Sharks Niclas Wallin skating after long summer rehab - San Jose Mercury News Niclas Wallin injured his left ankle just before the playoffs, enduring a long offseason recovery after a surgical procedure and infection. 

Mixed reviews on the name change in Hartford: Remember the Whale? Reports says Hartford will again via the AHL - Puck Daddy  Columnist Rick Green believes "Connecticut Whale" sounds like "a dorky insult," while others no doubt bristle at the whole non-plural nickname thing: "Here are your Whalers!" vs. "Here are your Whale."