Francis: Hurricanes must be better vs. own division next season

Posted: 15/07/2017 in NHL, Sports
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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The Carolina Hurricanes are one of the NHL’s most intriguing teams, featuring exciting up-and-comers like Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, and Noah Hanifin.

But despite its young stable, Carolina has yet to translate its talent into on-ice success, finishing with just 87 points last season to push the NHL’s longest active playoff drought to eight years.

The Hurricanes struggled mightily within their own division last season, stumbling to an 11-15-4 showing against Metropolitan foes. None of last year’s 16 playoff participants had a losing record against their own division, so it’s no surprise the Hurricanes were once again left watching from the sidelines.

“If you look at our record last year, we had a .500 or better record against every division in the league except the Metropolitan,” Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis told NHL Network Radio on Friday. “Last year, it was one tough division to be a part of. It’s not going to get any easier.”

Four teams in the Metropolitan Division finished with more than 100 points last season, including the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals and the repeat Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Carolina finished seventh in the division, ahead of only the New Jersey Devils.

But the Hurricanes have made a handful of key additions this offseason that could soon see playoff hockey return to Raleigh for the first time since 2009. To kick off the summer, Carolina acquired netminder Scott Darling from the Blackhawks, then added his former Chicago teammates Trevor van Riemsdyk and Marcus Kruger after they first found their way to the Vegas Golden Knights. The club also reunited with free agent Justin Williams, who was a part of Carolina’s Cup-winning squad in 2006.

“I think the learning experience of last year, coupled with the players we brought in this year, everybody understands just how important those games (against our division) are,” Francis added. “We can take a step forward and find our way inside the playoffs and not on the outside looking in next year.”

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