Friday, September 24, 2010

A brief season preview

So, Monday was the FIRST PRESEASON GAME, which, of course, was music to my severely hockey-deprived ears. I eagerly turned on the game once I got back from dinner, so very glad to hear Chuck Kaiton's voice coming from the speakers.

Then I heard the score, which at that point was 3-0 in favor of the Panthers with seven minutes left in the first period. Yes, the Canes went down by three goals less than a period into the new season, all three goals being scored in under two minutes. Needless to say, the radio was turned off.

Granted, it was just the first preseason game. But, let's face it, this is not necessarily what I wanted to see as a Canes fan coming off that horrendous season last year. Luckily the Canes won their next game (Erik Cole got an empty net goal) against the Predators 3-0. They played the Preds again tonight, this time losing by a score of 2-1.

Looking good so far? Well, having not watched these games I can't tell you much, but Patrick O'Sullivan looks like he's making a good case for himself, 2 goals and 1 assist in the 3 games played. The Canes signed him to a two-way contract last Friday. For those keeping track, yes, he is the one who was briefly Canes property in the three-way trade to get Erik Cole back two seasons ago. And, yes, that's pretty much all I know about him, other than a vague idea that he hasn't had the best of seasons of late.

The Canes also signed their first round pick from this year's draft, Jeff Skinner, earlier this week.

And so, now that we're all caught up, this brings me to what will be classified as the season preview. Last season I had the highest of hopes before the season began, only to have them crash and burn shortly after. So, this season, enter skepticism.

We're a young team. I'm not confident that anything will work. Goaltending will hopefully go well, as long as Cam manages to make the saves he ought to. Hopefully the defense won't have more holes than Swiss cheese (for the record, I'm still skeptical of relying on Anton Babchuk). Our offense will hopefully produce and hopefully whatever young guys make the team will be a breath of fresh air. Hopefully Eric Staal takes the captaincy and leads our team to victory. Or something like that.

Do you notice all the "hopefully"s? Yeah, I'm not certain about any of this. In truth, I don't see much different in this squad versus what was on the ice last year. Yes, there are differences, but there definitely wasn't a huge signing or trade over the offseason that I can point to and say "That, that event right there. That's the change that's going to make us a playoff team." Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily, but not being bad doesn't automatically qualify it as good.

So, we'll see. We're 1-2 in the preseason, but who cares about the preseason? Or at the very least, who cares about games where 1/3 of the roster will actually be playing night-in and night-out? Perhaps the next few games, with more of our permanent faces, will be more telling of our game-readiness, but I think that's doubtful too. Last year we went 2-2 in the preseason, and that was definitely not an indicator of our season in October.

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