Apr 29, 2013, 4:36 PM EDT
It didn’t take Eric Staal many words to sum up Carolina’s 2013 campaign.
“Frustrating and difficult,” he told the Raleigh News and Observer as the ‘Canes cleared out their dressing room on Monday.
If Staal had to choose another word, it probably would’ve been “shocking.”
The ‘Canes captain admitted he didn’t expect to be doing year-end interviews this early, especially after his club got off to a 15-9-1 start and led the Southeast Division on Mar. 13.
Things began to crumble from there, though.
A 3-2 loss to the Capitals on Mar. 14 started a 1-13-1 slide that essentially eliminated Carolina from postseason contention, something Staal acknowledged.
“We were playing Washington and they were far behind us and you’re thinking about putting them in the rear-view mirror for good,” he explained. “And then some unfortunate circumstances and from there it just kind of went the other direction.”
Staal and Carolina now face a pretty curious offseason.
The club needs to decide how much of the aforementioned slump was due to key injuries (Cam Ward, Justin Faulk, Joni Pitkanen) and how much lies with a defensive core GM Jim Rutherford said needed improvement for 2013-14.
“Whether it be a physical defenseman, a puck-moving defenseman, two puck-moving defensemen, whatever it is, those are things the management team and the coaching staff will discuss at the end of the year,” he said. “That’s an area it’s clear we need to make stronger.”
Rutherford also said the group “made it too easy for opponents,” this season and needs “to be a lot harder to play against.”
The ‘Canes are locked into five defensemen next year — Pitkanen, Faulk, Tim Gleason, Jamie McBain, Jay Harrison — and it’s expected Ryan Murphy, the 12th overall pick at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, will have a legit shot of making the roster.
Staal sounded upbeat at the possibilities for next year.
“Over the summer there will be some changes, I’m sure,” he said, “and a fresh outlook and obviously some guys getting healthier and we’ll be back ready to go in the fall.”
May 24, 2015, 9:36 PM EDT
The Lightning are 7-0 when scoring the first goal in the playoffs.
May 24, 2015, 9:17 PM EDT
Degree of difficulty: high.
May 24, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT
Blocking shots can be a grind, too, after all.
May 24, 2015, 8:07 PM EDT
May 24, 2015, 7:37 PM EDT
No clarification on what would qualify as “dramatic.”
May 24, 2015, 6:52 PM EDT
Who will grab a 3-2 series lead?
May 24, 2015, 5:58 PM EDT
Can Anaheim grind this series out?
May 24, 2015, 4:45 PM EDT
Things weren’t a “perfect fit” for the blue liner in Nashville.
May 24, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT
He coached Edmonton to a 17-25-9 record after Dallas Eakins was fired in December.
May 24, 2015, 2:45 PM EDT
He’s gone nine games without a point.
May 24, 2015, 1:45 PM EDT
He has not played since April 24.
May 24, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
He’s set to become an unrestricted free agent in July.
May 24, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
He missed Game 4 due to an undisclosed injury.
May 24, 2015, 11:41 AM EDT
He owes St. Louis one more season.
May 24, 2015, 10:46 AM EDT
He has not coached since being fired by the Penguins last June.
May 24, 2015, 2:05 AM EDT
“Finally got a bounce.”
May 24, 2015, 12:52 AM EDT
Chicago wins another long overtime game.
May 24, 2015, 12:30 AM EDT
This series heads back to California, all even.
May 24, 2015, 12:08 AM EDT
Double overtime? Sure, why not?
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