You might have heard a loud cheer on Saturday – not from baseball fans for the start of the post-season or from college football fans after a full day of action – but mostly from hockey fans. Why? Saturday was the first day of October. Ah, October. What a lovely month you are. The air is noticeably crisper and temperatures begin to drop in preparation for winter (or, in North Carolina, that week or two in January). Most importantly, teams are ramping up for the start of the NHL season. The start of the season is tomorrow, with three games that night, including a double-header on Versus (Flyers @ Bruins, Penguins @ Canucks). Caniacs, however, have had October 7th circled on their calendar ever since the schedule came out in late June. It has been 179 days since April 9th, the Canes last game of the 2010-2011 season, and there are many fans who are chomping at the bit to see some regular season hockey being played at the RBC Center again.
The Hurricane media blitz is on around the triangle, with Jeff Skinner, Brandon Sutter and Tuomo Ruutu making various appearances on radio and television today. This came after Chad LaRose was on two radio stations, Eric Staal appeared on WRAL (link here), Anthony Stewart spoke to Adam Gold and Joe Ovies on 99.9FM the Fan, and Tim Gleason was on the David Glenn Show yesterday (link here – click on “hour 3″ – lasts about 40 minutes). Details for each media appearance can be found on the Hurricanes website. Be sure to check out the Think Ice campaign as well around town.
Here are my final Canes’ predictions for this season, hopefully that won’t go wrong:
- Cam Ward will have a Vezina-worthy season and will be named as a finalist.
- Eric Staal will reach 85-90 points for the first time since the 2007-2008 season.
- Zac Dalpe will burst through onto the NHL scene and have a 50-55-point season.
- Cam Ward and Brian Boucher will be the best goaltending tandom in the NHL.
- The Canes will make the playoffs as a 6 or 7 seed.